07/09/2015, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok forcibly returns more than 90 Uyghurs to China

The Uyghur refugees had entered in the country irregularly about a year ago. They include many women and children. They were taken from prisons and transported to a military airport where for a flight to China. Men who refused to climb on board the plane were drugged. Activist reports that the "Beijing government behind this shameful act."

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - More than 90 ethnic Uyghur, including several women and children, have been forcibly deported to China. They are accused of illegally entering Thailand, having fled from Beijing persecution in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

This was reported by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an organization of exiled Uyghurs based in Monaco, which shows how the detainees, after more than a year in prison in Thailand, were transported from prison to the military airport near the capital Bangkok. The news is also confirmed by the Turkish newspaper Yenisafak, contacted by a social worker who attended detainees at the airport.

Bilal Degirmeci of the Turkish aid group Cansuyu, told the paper: " We have learned that Uyghurs were taken to the military airport in handcuffs with three military vehicles. “[The authorities] said 50 male and 25 female detainees were taken from the Bangkok detention center. "  According to the WUC’s source, the women and children from the five detention centers had already been taken onboard, while the men had “resisted getting on a plane heading to China” amid a heavy Thai army presence at the airport". The Thai army is using “a special chemical gas” to knock the men unconscious and force them onto the plane, the source said.

The WUC said it was “gravely concerned” about the fate of the Uyghurs, noting that the consequences of their repatriation were likely to include criminal allegations used to justify punishments that would be inflicted on them upon their arrival in China. "The children - continues the statement - are in deep shock, unable to comprehend the cruelty engulfing them at the airport. The crying plea of women is falling on deaf ears, disappearing over the horizon. The situation of the men is still unknown. "

Beijing  has been cracking down on the Uyghur community for a long time. The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority that lives in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. The population speaks a Turkish dialect and considers itself much closer to the tradition of Central Asia than China.

Since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, Beijing has seen the Uyghurs as terrorists affiliated to al-Qaeda, accusing their members of receiving training in military camps in Afghanistan before returning home and threatening the Chinese territory. Also in recent times China fears that the Uyghurs may adopt the ideology and tactics of the Islamic state extremists.

The policy of discrimination against this minority has resulted in a mass migration, which passes from the territories of Central and South America, especially through Thailand and Malaysia. To curb this immigration, Beijing has signed a series of extradition deals to bring Uyghur detainees back to home soil.

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