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Iran Press TV

HRW slams Thailand for separating Uighur families

Iran Press TV

Sat Jul 11, 2015 5:58PM

Human Rights Watch has accused the Thai government of forcibly separating Uighur families when it came to deportation of the Muslim minority to China.

HRW's representative for Thailand, Sunai Phasuk, criticized Bangkok's duplicity in dealing with a group of Chinese Uighur refugees, saying the criteria used for the recent transfer of approximately 100 members of the community to China was not their alleged wrongdoing or nationality.

Phasuk said officials in Thailand had separated members of families, sending most of the women and younger members to Turkey earlier in the month and then deporting the men and some few women to China.

"Soon after the Thai government was lauded for sending over 170 Turkic women and children to the country of their choice, the same government made a U-turn on its policy by sending the Turkic men to a country where they did not want to go," the Bangkok Post cited Phasuk as saying.

Of an estimated 346 Uighurs who have been in Thailand's immigration detention centers, 172 people were sent to Turkey on July 2, while a group of 109 were deported to China on Thursday. At least 65 other people of Turkic ethnicity remain in the country, pending a government decision on the issue.

Rights groups have warned against the deportation of the Muslim Uighurs to China, where they could face prosecution by the ruling Communist Party. The HRW said Friday that "Thailand has cravenly caved to pressure from Beijing" by "forcibly sending" the people to China.

Phasuk had earlier claimed that only one man was on board the plane carrying the migrants to Turkey. Thai authorities, however, denied the accusations.

"Our policy was not to separate families and the immigration police were doing the best to implement that policy," said the secretary-general of the Thai National Security Council, Anusit Kunakorn, on Saturday.

Thai authorities had earlier denied that they sent the Uighurs to China under pressure from Beijing, saying that those deported were involved in illegal activities, and their nationality was verified as Chinese.

The decision sparked a huge backlash, especially in Turkey where people gathered outside the diplomatic compounds in Ankara and Istanbul, forcing officials to temporarily close down the missions.

Turkey has also intensified its criticism of China over Beijing's crackdown on Uighurs in the far-eastern Xinjiang Province. Reports last month showed that China banned the Muslims in the region from fasting during the holy months of Ramadan. Beijing claims that the Uighurs pose security threats.

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