East Turkistan Government in Exile Respectively Asks Thai Government Not to Return Suspected Uyghur Refugees to China
December 30, 2014 Leave a comment
300 Uyghurs fleeing from Chinese persecution were caught in Thailand last March with forged passports. Primarily composed of women and children, the group was caught attempting to cross into Malaysia, where they were hoping to find a way to Turkey. They were found tired and hungry in a forest. If the Thai police decide that they are indeed Chinese citizens, there is little doubt that the entire group of 300 will be deported to China. This indirectly means that they will be sent to their deaths or worse.
They are scared of returning to China and here is the message from those Uyghurs to the world through Radio Free Asia:
“We thought it was better to die than to be sent back to China. We climbed over the walls and sneaked out the door … No body, no country, is showing an interest in our situation or is concerned about us, so if we were deported to China, they [Chinese authorities] would eat us alive.”
Thailand has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not recognize the status of refugees. Yet Thailand has ratified a number of important international human rights instruments which were incorporated into its domestic laws. We expect the Thai government not to return these Uyghurs, including women and children facing death in China based on the respect of human rights.
The Turkish government is offering shelter to those Uyghurs in Thailand. But China rebuffed the offer and stated that they are strongly against the decision from Ankara. It is obvious that the Chinese government is pressuring the Thai government to return those Uyghurs to China as illegal immigrants. However, the Thai government should understand that is not possible for these Uyghurs to escape oppression from China legally based on Chinese law.
It is hard to understand the Thai government considering on sending back those Uyghurs to prosecution in China even with the Turkish governments agreeing to relocate those Uyghurs to Turkey.
The humanitarian protection offered by Turkey should be applauded since this will save about 300 people from torture, imprisonment, and death. Based on a news article from Human Rights Watch “China’s record of torture, disappearance, and arbitrary detention of Uighurs, as well as the politicized nature of judicial proceedings in past cases of forced repatriation, raise serious concerns that these individuals are currently at risk of torture and ill-treatment.”
East Turkistan government in Exile respectively and strongly requests the Thai government to consider the Chinese state terror and worse human rights violation against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan, and allow the Uyghur refugees shelter in Turkey.
Appendix 1: Brief situation of East Turkistan (aka: Xinjiang)
Since China invaded East Turkistan in 1949, Uyghurs political freedom, economic facilities, social opportunities and protective security were deprived. Following is the current brief situation:
1) China has no interest for a peaceful solution on the Uyghur issue – Ilham Tohti
Any peaceful resistance opposed to Chinese regime is considered “separatism” and is punished as a crime. For instance, the recent case of Ilham Tohti demonstrated the brutal nature of Beijing’s totalitarian approach and shows that China is not interested in peaceful solutions for the difficulties faced by the Uyghur people. Mr. Tohti worked as a Economics professor at Beijing’s Minzu University (formerly Central Nationalities University). He is not only the founder of the “Uyghur Online” website, he is also credited for having many of his own research on Uyghur issues published in editorials and policy proposals. Tohti has always preached harmony and cooperation between the Han Chinese nationalities and the Uyghur people, and consistently hopes for them to reach a peaceful resolution. As well, Tohti brought attention to the various injustices in East Turkistan and demanded social justice and fair treatment be assured for the Uyghur people. However, Tohti and his family were subject to brutal harassment by Chinese Authorities, having been put under house arrest and surveillance until Tohti was eventually arrested and detained on January 2014 under the charges of separatism. Recently Mr. Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime that he did not commit.
2) Religious repression, clashes and civilian massacre, torture and execution
Head scarves for Uyghur women and beards for Uyghur men were banned. Teaching children about the Quran (Islam’s holy book) or Islam was also banned. Those under 18, women, or government workers are not allowed to go the mosque. Moreover some mosques were closed during the month of Ramadhan causing anger among the Uyghur population.
Dozens of Uyghurs were killed and more than 200 Uyghurs were arrested in Hoten in July 2013 where Uyghurs protested against the closing the Haneriq Mosque and the arrest of a young imam.
At least three ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs were killed and 20 others injured in clashes when Chinese security forces opened fire at a crowd during the Eid al-Fitr festival in Aksu in 2013 August.
Peaceful protestors in Yarkent county demanding religious freedom in July 28th, 2014, during Ramadan, were massacred by Chinese military drones, with death tolls exceeding thousands. Afterwards hundreds were arrested and the Chinese court condemned 12 people to death and gave another 15 suspended death sentences in connection to the Yarkand protest.
September 26, 2014, Chinese police bombed farmer homes in Hoten, killing 10 children aged between 11 years to 15 years, while chasing Uyghurs freedom fighters who tried to attack the Chinese police..
Harsh religious repression of the Chinese government forced Uyghurs either to fight against the Beijing Government or escape from China by fleeing to any country that will offer them refugee.
On December 19, 2009, a group of 20 Uyghurs including two young children escaped to Cambodia. They soon disappeared after being forcibly repatriated by the Combodian government to China under Chinese pressure .
For immediate release
Dec 29,2014, 8pm EST
Contact: East Turkistan Government in Exile, 647 210 0709