17 detained Turkic people call for immediate release

17 detained Turkic people call for immediate release

A group of 17 people, claimed by both China and Turkey as their citizens and detained in Thailand as illegal immigrants, yesterday filed a suit with the Southern Criminal Court asking to be released and allowed to travel to Turkey.

Acting on behalf of the group, comprising four adults and 13 children including an 11-month old baby born in an Immigration Detention Centre (IDC), Ashan Teklimakan, 22, and Rukiye Teklimakan, 21, contested that their detention was unlawful and asked the court to order Immigration Police to release them.

The group is part of 355 people, who China says are from its Uighur minority in Xinjiang province but which Turkey also regards as its Turkic citizens, detained at immigation detention centres in various provinces of Thailand since their arrest in March last year.

Mr and Mrs Teklimakan said their domicile was Istanbul, Turkey, and their travel documents were issued by the Turkish embassy in Vietnam, but were not recognised by the Aranyaprathet Immigration Police who arrested them and detained them at Suan Phlu IDC.

Their suit is a test case for the other detained Uighur/Turkic people who might also file similar suits with Thai courts.

"The detention centre is not a place for a kid," Ms Teklimakan told the court through an interpreter.

"My two sons should be able to play and go to school like other kids.

"They are not well treated here. The weather is hot and humid, making them get sick easily.

"I hope no one will hold back my son's freedom. Please let us go home."

The court proceedings were observed by representatives from the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the National Human Rights Commission, the Chinese embassy, and the Turkish embassy.

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