UNPO Strongly Condemns Continued Detention of Uyghurs in Thai Detention Facilities
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), strongly condemns the continued detention of dozens of Uyghurs in immigration detention facilities in Thailand. On 31 May 2016, fifteen of the detainees initiated a hunger strike to protest their inhumane treatment by prison authorities and to challenge the legality of their indefinite detention. The around 70 Uyghurs imprisoned in the detention centre in Bangkok are but a small share of scores of Uyghurs fleeing severe repression in China’s Xinjiang region.
At least 70 Uyghur refugees are currently imprisoned in several detention centres across Thailand’s capital, Bangkok - some of them for more than two years already. Deprived of their freedom, for the sole reasons of trying to escape Chinese repression, the Uyghur detainees have reportedly endured inhumane treatment by the prison staff, and been denied access to adequate healthcare, food and legal recourse.
On 31 May 2016, at least fifteen of the detained Uyghurs began a hunger strike to draw attention to the violation of their most basic human rights. In a letter sent to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), the detainees participating in the strike protest their poor treatment and the illegality of their indefinite detention, and deplore the international community’s – including the UN Refugee Agency’s – apparent indifference to the tragic plight of Uyghur refugees in Thailand and elsewhere.
The group detained in Bangkok is but a small part of thousands of Uyghurs fleeing their ancestral homeland in China’s East Turkestan region (Xinjiang), where they are marginalized and suppressed by the Han-dominated central authorities. In the hope of reaching relative security in countries as far away as Turkey, Uyghurs are willing to accept enormous risks, such as falling into the hands of human traffickers or being detained and mistreated in neighbouring countries, in order to escape persecution, torture and imprisonment in China.
UNPO calls on the Thai government to address the untenable conditions Uyghur refugees face in Bangkok’s detention centres, to unconditionally and immediately release the bulk of those who are clearly detained unlawfully, and to ensure fair trials for the remaining detainees. UNPO will continue to press the international community to raise the matter of Uyghurs illegally arrested all over the world for politically motivated reasons, and to take swift action regarding the tragic situation of those individuals on hunger strike, in particular.
To download the UNPO press release click here.
To read the World Uyghur Congress’ press release click here.
The full text of the letter of the Uyghur detainees (also see pictures below):
“Urgent Appeal: We are Uyghur refugees from East Turkestan detained by Thai authorities for more than 2 years upon our difficult escape from Chinese repression.
Instead of protecting us from the imminent threat of mistreatment, torture and imprisonment upon our return, Thailand has already forcibly extradited more than 140 of us to China.
International institutions for protecting refugees including the UNHCR haven’t seriously cared about the tragic situation of Uyghur refugees—not only of those who have already been repatriated, but also of those who are still suffering in inhuman conditions in the Thai detention centers.
The Thai authorities neither treat us as refugees or even humans, nor are they willing to render us to Turkey who has offered its help. Rather, they forcibly separated and relocated families. We are in a desperate situation. We asked nothing more than to live in freedom without fear of repression because of our ethnicity and religion, we don’t want to be sent back to China where we will face torture and imprisonment.
We have no choice but to go on a hunger strike as we don’t want to stay any more years in detention innocently and without knowing about what will come upon us. We believe that it is better to die here rather to be repatriated, tortured and imprisoned in China as we know what they did to our fellow countrymen extradited by Thailand previously.
We urgently appeal to the international community not to stay silent on Thailand’s unfair treatment of Uyghur refugees, and urge Thai authorities to help protect us against China’s repression in accordance with international law.”