World News

Uighurs Escape Songkhla Detention Center

Uighurs Escape Songkhla Detention Center

The Songkhla immigration superintendent was transferred to assist work at the Operations Centre of the 6th immigration command following the jailbreak of 20 Uighur illegal immigrants from the detention centre in Sadao district of Songkhla province early Monday morning (Nov 20).

"Twenty are still on the run but ... they don't have food and can not communicate with villagers", Immigration Police spokesman Cherngron Rimpadee said.

At around 2:30am today, police were alerted that 20 men Had broken out of a detention center in Songkhla's Sadao district.

Military officers stand next to a square hole in the wall of a detention centre near the Thailand-Malaysia border in Hatyai, Songkla November 20, 2017.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Affairs Ministry said Beijing was urging Thai authorities to return the Uighurs.

The group were among hundreds detained in Thailand 2014 despite their claims to be Turkish citizens.

"Our officials found them, so we have held them in custody to prepare to send them back, " Pol Col Cherngron said.

Uighurs Escape Songkhla Detention Center
Uighurs Escape Songkhla Detention Center

Dr Wisut Binlateh, director of the coordination centre for southern provinces of the Office of the Chularajmontri of Thailand's Islamic spiritual leader, said the escape would help free Thailand of pressure from China to deport them.

"China has asked Thailand's relevant departments to bring back these fugitives as soon as possible", spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing on Tuesday. "It is an global relations concern that I don't know about, " he told AP.

Turkey shares ethnic links with the Uygurs and accepts those who flee from China, where the Muslim minority are persecuted and subject to tight controls on movement.

"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", Ms Kadeer said in an email released by the World Uyghur Congress, which she heads.

Ms Kadeer is a former political prisoner in China accused of leaking state secrets in 1999.

He said checkpoints had been set up along the border.

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