13 August 2015
THAILAND recently deported 109 Uighur refugees to China, a move that was met with international criticism and questions concerning the legal status of the Uighurs as illegal migrants or refugees. Thailand defended its decision on the grounds that it was a third country, and to show that it would keep some Uighur refugees, it rejected Beijing’s request to return all the Uighur refugees in Thailand’s detention camps.
The decision sparked widespread protests in Turkey, with which the Uighurs share linguistic, cultural and ethnic ties. Both the Thai embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul were attacked and had to be temporarily shut. The United States and the United Nations expressed strong concerns that the deportations were in violation of international law, while human rights groups, like the Uighur American Association, condemned the deportation of the Uighur Muslims.
While the debate mainly centred on the legal aspects of the Uighur migrant issue, these reactions skirted the security implications for Thailand and Southeast Asian countries posed by an influx of Uighur refugees into the region.
… The writer is an associate research fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
ICPVTR / Print
Last updated on 16/11/2015