52 Uyghur Groups Call for an End to Prolonged Detention of Uyghurs in Thailand on the Anniversary of Forced Return
July 8, 2022 | 10:00 a.m. EDT
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 819-0598, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722
Eight years after the Chinese government loaded a plane with 109 Uyghur refugees in Thailand and flew them to China against their will, 52 Uyghur organizations are calling for an end to the prolonged arbitrary detention of 52 Uyghurs in Thai immigration detention centers. We urge concerned governments to work with the Government of Thailand to ensure safe passage to a third country where they will be effectively protected from forced return.
As genocide unfolds in East Turkistan, Uyghurs outside China have been subject to persecution and a serious risk of deportation in many cases, underscoring the critical need for protection. Civil society organizations from 19 countries jointly issued a Call for Urgent Measures to Protect Uyghurs at Risk of Refoulement in June, ahead of World Refugee Day 2022.
The group of men fled across the border into Southeast Asia in between 2013 and 2015 to escape persecution in East Turkistan, but have now endured over eight years of arbitrary detention in inhumane and degrading conditions with no end in sight. At least two have died, including a three-year-old boy, and many others have suffered prolonged physical and psychological abuse as a result of inadequate access to medical treatment.
Thai civil society organizations have raised serious concerns about the situation with the Thai Parliament’s human rights committee and with the National Human Rights Commission. The refugees are now spread across several immigration detention facilities in Thailand without effective access to international protection mechanisms like UNHCR. Aid organizations now face a complete lack of access to the group to administer treatment or offer support.
Uyghurs have increasingly been recognized, under international human rights standards, as experiencing persecution as a particular group in East Turkistan, and Uyghurs outside China continue to face state-led transnational repression abroad, the evidence of which being recently submitted by legal experts to the international criminal court.
Uyghurs who are not firmly settled in third countries face an exceptional risk of detention and refoulement, and many have faced harassment and intimidation by local authorities, often at the request of Chinese authorities.
Since 2016, the Chinese government has intensified repression and carried out a policy of mass, arbitrary detention of Uyghurs, subjecting them to severe policies including the prohibition of most religious, linguistic, and cultural practices; state-sponsored forced labour; imprisonment; and forced sterilization and birth prevention policies. As a result, it is well-established that all Uyghurs and Turkic peoples forcibly returned to China would be at serious risk of persecution.
The principle of non-refoulement firmly establishes that no one should be returned to a country where there is a real risk of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or any other human rights violation. The 52 Uyghurs must be released and granted protection by a third country on this basis.
- Alberta Uyghur Association
- Association of East Turkistan Islamic Scholars
- Australian Uyghur Association
- Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
- Belgium Uyghur Association
- Blue Crescent Humanitarian Aid Association
- Campaign for Uyghurs
- China Research Institute
- Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
- East Turkestan Press and Media Association
- East Turkestan Union of Muslim Scholars
- East Turkistan Association of Canada
- East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association
- East Turkistan Entrepreneur Tradesmen and Industrialists Businessmen Association
- East Turkistan Foundation
- East Turkistan New Generation Movement
- East Turkistan Nuzugum Culture and Family Association
- East Turkistan Sports and Development Association
- European East Turkistan Education Association
- European East Turkistan Union
- Finnish Uyghur Culture Center
- Furkan Education and Cooperation Association
- Hira Education Association
- Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Science and lore Foundation
- International union of East Turkistan Organizations
- Isa Yüsüp Alptekin Foundation
- Japan Uyghur Association
- Knowledge and Service Solidarity and Cooperation Association
- Norwegian Uyghur Committee
- Omer Uygur Foundation
- Public Association of Uyghurs “Ittipak” of the Kyrgyz Republic
- Satuq Bugrakhan Foundation of Science and Civilization
- Sweden Uyghur Union
- Swiss Uyghur Association
- UK Uyghur Association
- Uyghur Academy
- Uyghur Academy Foundation
- Uyghur American Association
- Uyghur Association of Victoria, Australia
- Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy
- Uyghur Community in Austria
- Uyghur Cultural and Education Union
- Uyghur Human Rights Project
- Uyghur Projects Foundation
- Uyghur Research Institue
- Uyghur Research Institute
- Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
- Uyghur Science and Civilization Research Foundation
- Uyghur Science and Education Foundation
- Uyghur Youth Union in Kazakhstan
- World Uyghur Congress
- World Uyghur Congress Foundation