Tags: US | Thailand | China | Uighur

US Urges Thailand to Protect Uighur Asylum Seekers

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 05:53 PM

The United States on Friday urged Thailand to protect some 200 asylum seekers who are reportedly from China's Uighur minority, after police said they discovered them at a secret camp.

Thai police said Thursday that they discovered the families in a raid in the kingdom's deep south and that the asylum seekers, who appeared to be preparing to head elsewhere, said they were Turkish.

US broadcaster Radio Free Asia, quoting relatives, said that the asylum seekers were actually Uighurs — a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim group from China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

"We are urging the Thai government to provide full protection to the victims (and) to ensure that their humanitarian needs are met," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

The annual US Human Rights Reports said that China carries out "severe official repression" of Uighurs in Xinjiang, including over their freedom of speech and religion.

Xinjiang is periodically hit by violent clashes and Chinese officials blamed Uighur separatists for a March 1 mass stabbing at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming that killed 29 people and injured 143 others.

Under Beijing's pressure, Cambodia, Malaysia and Pakistan have all in recent years forcibly returned Uighurs to China.

The UN refugee agency criticized Malaysia for its deportation of six Uighurs to China in December, saying that they were sent back to a country where they were at risk even though the group had registered asylum claims.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that it is providing assistance to the 200 asylum seekers in Thailand but has not confirmed their identifies.

Radio Free Asia's Uighur service quoted relatives as saying that the asylum seekers pretended to be Turkish for fear that they would be deported to China, which has a generally cordial relationship with Thailand.

Thailand has long been a hub for people trafficking, with thousands of Rohingya boat people from neighboring Myanmar believed to have passed through the kingdom in recent years.

US officials "encourage Thailand to conduct thorough investigations for signs of trafficking, including in cases with alleged government complicity, and to bring trafficking offenders to justice," Harf said.

© AFP 2017

 
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The United States on Friday urged Thailand to protect some 200 asylum seekers who are reportedly from China's Uighur minority, after police said they discovered them at a secret camp.
US,Thailand,China,Uighur
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2014-53-14
Friday, 14 Mar 2014 05:53 PM
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