China yesterday said it has urged Thailand to “quickly bring to justice” 20 ethnic Uighur Muslims from China who broke out of a Thai detention center through a hole in the wall, using blankets to climb to the ground.
Twenty-five Uighurs dug through their cell wall with broken tiles to make their dramatic escape from the center in Thailand’s southern province of Songkhla, near the border with Malaysia, early on Monday.
As of yesterday, 10 had been caught, leaving 15 whose whereabouts were still unknown, Thai police said, adding that checkpoints had been set up along the border.
The escapees were part of the last remaining group of more than 200 Uighurs detained in Thailand in 2014.
Members of the group identified themselves as Turkish citizens and asked to be sent to Turkey, but more than 100 were forcibly returned to China in July 2015, a move that sparked international condemnation, including from rights groups who feared they could face torture in China.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said Beijing would continue to strengthen cooperation with Bangkok on the detainees’ escape and closely follow the situation.
“China has already urged the relevant Thai department to quickly bring the relevant people to justice,” he said at a regular news briefing.
Over the years, hundreds, possibly thousands, of Turkic-language speaking Uighurs have escaped unrest in China’s western region of Xinjiang by traveling clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey.
The Chinese government has blamed violence in Xinjiang between majority Han Chinese and Uighurs on separatist Muslim militants, though rights groups and exiles say that anger over strict Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Uighurs is to blame.
Exiled ethnic Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer called on Thailand and any country that might find the Uighurs to treat them according to international law and not hand them over to China.
“The Uyghurs took the risk of capture and perhaps harsh repercussions to try to save themselves from indefinite detention in Thailand and from deportation to China,” Kadeer said in an e-mail released by the World Uyghur Congress, which she heads.
“[Whether they] are indeed Turkish nationals as they claim or Chinese nationals as China claims, the fact that they are ethnic Uyghur is enough for them to face persecution and harsh punishment,” she said.
Kadeer is a former political prisoner in China accused of leaking state secrets in 1999.
She was later allowed to leave on medical grounds and lives in the US.
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
The dramatic quietening of towns and cities during lockdown in Britain has changed the way the Earth moves beneath our feet, scientists said. Seismologists at the British Geological Survey (BGS) have found that their sensors are twitching less now that human activity has been curtailed, leading to a drop in the anthropogenic din that vibrates through the planet. The fall in the human hum that rings around the world means that, in theory at least, the scientists should be able to detect smaller earthquakes in the UK, and more distant tremors in Europe and in countries further afield than their equipment usually