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The Thai authorities have allegedly deported two Chinese activists in self-imposed exile who are registered as refugees by the UN back to China.   

According to Amnesty International (AI), Jiang Yefei and Dong Guangping, two Chinese activists who fled from China to Thailand, are currently at grave danger of ill-treatment and torture after the Thai authorities deported them back to China between 12 and 16 November 2015.

Both activists were arrested by the Thai authorities on 28 October 2015 for not having valid visas. AI reported that the families of the two have not received official notice of their deportation and have not been able to contact them since 5 November.

Jiang Yefei, was detained and tortured in China in May and August of 2008 after criticizing the official response to the 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. He fled to Thailand with his wife shortly after and in April 2015. 

Dong Guangping was held in custody by the Chinese authorities from May 2014 to February 2015 after participating in an event commemorating victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

He arrived in Thailand with his wife and daughter in September this year to escape harassment.

AI added that the two were supposed to be held in a Bangkok prison until 20 November and 25 November respectively for non-payment of fines after violating the Thai immigration law during which the UNHCR could provide assistance to ensure their protection.

However, unidentified individuals not known to either of the two or their families made unsolicited payments of the fines on 6 November, leading to their immediate transfer to the immigration detention centre and their deportation a few days later, AI reported.

Amnesty International urges people to write to the Chinese authorities:

  • Demanding that the Chinese authorities immediately disclose the whereabouts and legal status of Jiang Yefei and Dong Guangping;
  • Urging the authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally unless they are formally charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence.
  • Pending their release, urging the authorities to provide immediate guarantees for their safety and to ensure that they are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment in detention;
  • Calling on the authorities to ensure without delay that they have regular, unrestricted access to their families and lawyers.

In July 2015, the Thai military government deported nearly 100 Uighurs from several detention centres in Bangkok back to China.

The deportation of the Uighurs sparked protests in Turkey in early July. The protesters attacked Thailand’s honorary consulate in Istanbul, smashing windows and destroying other properties.

About a month after the deportation, on 17 August 2015, Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong intersection, one of the busiest intersection in central Bangkok, was rocked by a bomb attack which left 20 people dead and 135 injured.

The bomb attack, which was never witnessed before in Thai history, is suspected to have been carried out by an ultra-nationalist Turkish group in retaliation for the deportation of Uighurs back to China.

According to AI, Southeast Asian countries are increasingly violating the non-refoulement principle following diplomatic pressure by China. A number of countries have forcibly returned dissidents and ethnic minorities fleeing China to authorities.

In December 2012, Malaysia forcibly returned six Uighurs, whose claims for asylum were pending with the UNHCR. In December 2009, the Cambodian authorities forcibly returned 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers. Of these 20, five are reported to have been sentenced to life imprisonment, while eight others are reported to have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 16 to 20 year, after closed trials, AI reported.

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