NSC chief checks on treatment of Uighurs in China

The National Security Council (NSC) chief yesterday led a delegation to China to observe how the 109 Uighurs deported from Thailand last week are being treated. 

The repatriation of the migrants sparked outrage in the international community, with critics saying they fear the Uighurs could face persecution.

The aim of the trip is to check on the safety of the deported Uighur migrants, Anusit Khunakorn said before flying to China yesterday.

Mr Anusit said the Thai delegation will meet for talks with Chinese senior officials today, including the Minister of State Security, and the secretary-general of the Chinese State Security Committee.

The delegation will then travel to the country's western Xinjiang region to check on the 109 Uighurs.

He said Beijing has assured the government that any Uighurs cleared of crimes will be treated well.

Mr Anusit added the Thai and Chinese governments have worked with each other closely on the issue. 

He said the Foreign Ministry also will brief Turkey on how the Uighurs are being treated, to improve international understanding of the issue.

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok was quoted by the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, saying the repatriation of Uighurs to China was justified and legal since it was conducted under international treaties and a bilateral agreement between Thailand and China.

The Chinese embassy also indicated that Uighurs not involved in serious crimes or found not guilty of any charges would be released for resettlement.

Suspects connected to serious crimes also will be investigated and dealt with fairly, the embassy said.

Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Worapong Sanga-nate yesterday echoed the Chinese embassy's view, saying the Thai government has repatriated the Uighur migrants to both China and Turkey in full compliance with international laws. The migrants were deported to China last Thursday after 172 Uighurs were earlier sent to Turkey for resettlement.

Eight more Uighurs were also deported to Turkey last Saturday, bringing the total number sent to Turkey to 180.

Some 52 remain in Thailand pending nationality checks.

While the international community mostly accepted the decision to send the Uighurs to Turkey after they illegally entered Thailand last year, many countries have criticised the government for repatriating other Uighurs to China.

Sending the minority group to China was tantamount to a death sentence, some critics said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed its deep disappointment with the Thai government, while protesters in Istanbul rioted and broke into the Thai consulate. 

The Thai government insisted it made the right decision.

Related search: Uighurs, Uighur rendition, China Uighurs, Chinese embassy

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