Friday, April 3, 2015

Tug-of-war between China, Turkey over suspected Uighurs in Thailand

Reuters - Tue Mar 24, 2015 
Thailand  BANGKOK |

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

A group of suspected Uighur Muslims has become the focus of a diplomatic tug-of-war in Thailand between China and Turkey, with both countries wanting to repatriate them and hundreds of other suspected Uighurs detained in Thailand as illegal immigrants.
The group of 17, all from the same family, were detained by Thai police in March 2014 after illegally entering overland from Cambodia, said their lawyer Worasit Piriyawiboon.
Two of the family's 13 children were born in custody.
The family, who use the name Teklimakan, have spent most of the past year in the main police immigration detention center in Bangkok.
The group claimed to be Turkish and, while still in detention, were issued with passports by the Turkish Embassy and granted permission to travel to Turkey.
China insists the 17 detainees are Chinese Uighurs who should be returned to the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang, according to court documents seen by Reuters.
Hundreds of people have been killed in unrest in Xinjiang in the past two years, prompting a crackdown by Chinese authorities and small numbers of Uighurs to try and flee the country.