The Sun Daily

21 November 2017

BANGKOK: Thailand is seeking Malaysia’s cooperation in sending back Uighurs who are believed to have slipped into the neighbouring country, after escaping from an Immigration detention centre in Sadao yesterday.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, five of the 20 Uighurs escapees had been recaptured, but he did not furnish details on it, the location of their recapture or which country arrested them.

“Five of them have been recaptured and the rest have crossed the border (into Malaysia). So, now we are contacting our counterparts in Malaysia to send them back to us,” he told the media after attending the weekly cabinet meeting, here, today.

He said there were 100 to 200 Uighurs currently under detention in Thailand.

In the 2 am (local time) incident yesterday, 20 ethnic Uighurs awaiting repatriation to their home country escaped from Sadao’s Immigration detention centre, with officials believing they headed to the nearby jungle at the Malaysia-Thailand border.

The escaping Uighurs, detained at the centre since 2014, had dug a hole in their cell wall and climbed down the building using blankets.

Eight of the centre’s Immigration officers have been transferred out as the authorities began an investigation into the breakout.

Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister said the Uighurs currently detained in Thailand could be sent back to their original country, birth country or a third country.

“For example, we deported some of them back to China as the evidence proved that they were born in China and had committed offences there, so we deported them to China.

“Some Uighur women and children have been deported to third countries as they do not have a criminal record,” said Prawit, adding that the authorities planned to bring the 20 Uighurs to Bangkok before they escaped.

Meanwhile, in Songkhla, southern Thailand, Immigration police chief, Lt Gen Suthipong Wongping who toured the detention centre today said they had already informed their Malaysian counterpart on the Uighurs’ escape.

The authorities, according to him, had managed to retrace the escape routes taken by the Uighurs and believed all of them had slipped out of Thailand.

He said the Immigration police had also set up a committee to investigate the incident. — Bernama