Thailand returns recognized refugees to China (and falsely claims they did not know about their status)

December 8, 2015

Anneliese Mcauliffe in Al Jazeera on 6 December 2015 reported that two Chinese human rights defenders recognised as UN refugees were forcibly deported from Thailand to China last month and have appeared on Chinese state-run television and confessed to human-trafficking offenses. CCTV reported that Jiang Yefei was arrested for “assisting others to illegally cross the national border”, and Dong Guangping was charged with using a trafficking network to flee China while awaiting trial on sedition charges. It was the first time the two men were seen since being taken from a detention centre in the Thai capital Bangkok in November and deported to China.

The families of the men allege Chinese officials targeted them because of their political activities, and were using the human-trafficking accusations as justification for their illegal deportation from Thailand. Looking tired and speaking slowly, Jiang confessed to the charge. It was unclear whether he was under any duress. “I know it is not legal to do such things and I am remorseful,” Jiang said. “From now on, I will try to control my behaviour and will not be involved in these activities anymore.” Democracy campaigner Sheng Xue told Al Jazeera it appeared Jiang had been beaten. “It is very clear they have been forced to do this and it seems that at least Jiang Yefei has been tortured,” Sheng said. “We can see that he is very swollen in the face.” Jiang is a prominent pro-democracy campaigner and creator of a controversial series of cartoons depicting Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping in compromising situations.

What makes the case even more lurid is that they had been recognised as refugees by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and were granted resettlement in Canada. However, this international protection did not prevent their deportation from Thailand. [Three other Chinese citizens were sent to China with Dong and Jiang. Their identities have not been confirmed]

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), had on Friday told reporters that Thailand had deported two recognised Chinese refugees but China on Monday accused the United Nations of making “irresponsible remarks” in its recent criticism of China, Thailand and Vietnam over deportations, insisting none of those deported were refugees. [That Chinese human rights defenders abroad are being chased by the Government was already known such as in the case in Myanmar reported in]

A Reuters piece of 30 November 2015 states clearly that the Thai junta knew that two Chinese men it detained were refugees awaiting resettlement in Canada but still deported them to China, according to a United Nations letter seen by Reuters. The letter, sent by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Thai foreign ministry, contradicts Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s statement last week that Thailand “did not know” that the men were under UNHCR protection. The letter said UNHCR had written to the Thai justice ministry, immigration bureau, foreign ministry and National Security Council. It said UNHCR had previously asked Thai authorities to suspend the deportation of the men and had kept the government fully informed of their legal status. In the letter, dated 16 November the UNHCR raised its objections to the deportations and reminded the Thai foreign ministry that it had informed the government in writing on 10 November.

Thailand will continue to work closely with our international partners including the UNHCR toward a more systematic screening mechanism to help make these decisions more efficient with a clear guideline for relevant agencies,” Sek Wannamethee, a ministry spokesman, told Reuters on Monday.

One Response to “Thailand returns recognized refugees to China (and falsely claims they did not know about their status)”

  1. […] Dong Guangping had been recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and accepted for resettlement to Canada as a refugee in 2015. He was in Thailand with his wife and daughter at that time. However, Thai police unlawfully handed him over to Chinese authorities before he was able to travel to Canada.  See also:… […]

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