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Forgotten Uyghurs locked up in Thailand face 'hell on earth'

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From AFP


By Alexis Hontang with Fulya Ozerkan in Istanbul

Almost a decade after fleeing China, more than 50 Uyghurs are languishing in Thai detention facilities, living in constant fear of being sent back.

China has been accused of grave human rights abuses in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs dating back to at least the 1990s, with the United States branding Beijing's treatment of the mostly Muslim minority a "genocide".

A damning UN report released in August detailed violations including torture and forced labour and "large-scale" arbitrary detention in what Beijing calls vocational training centres.

Many Uyghurs have fled China over the years, with some travelling through Myanmar to Thailand, but dozens have ended up stuck in detention there -- the apparent victims of what observers say is the kingdom's desire to avoid angering either Beijing or Washington.


The group of Uyghurs, arrested in 2013 and 2014, are currently being held in immigration centres around Thailand while authorities ponder their fate.

Neither their precise location nor their exact number is clear -- a group of Thai rights organisations says there are 52, but a senator working on the case says 59.

Immigration authorities have not responded to AFP requests for information.


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