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JOINT STATEMENT: 52 Uyghur Groups Call for an End to Prolonged Detention of Uyghurs in Thailand on the Anniversary of Forced Return

JOINT STATEMENT: 52 Uyghur Groups Call for an End to Prolonged Detention of Uyghurs in Thailand on the Anniversary of Forced Return
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Joint Statement – For Immediate Release
08 July 2022
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

Eight years after the Chinese government loaded a plane with 109 Uyghur refugees in Thailand and flew them to China against their will, 52 Uyghur organizations are calling for an end to the prolonged arbitrary detention of 52 Uyghurs in Thai immigration detention centers. We urge concerned governments to work with the Government of Thailand to ensure safe passage to a third country where they will be effectively protected from forced return.

As genocide unfolds in East Turkistan, Uyghurs outside China have been subject to persecution and a serious risk of deportation in many cases, underscoring the critical need for protection.

Civil society organizations from 19 countries jointly issued a Call for Urgent Measures to Protect Uyghurs at Risk of Refoulement in June, ahead of World Refugee Day 2022.

The group of men fled across the border into Southeast Asia in between 2013 and 2015 to escape persecution in East Turkistan, but have now endured over eight years of arbitrary detention in inhumane and degrading conditions with no end in sight. At least two have died, including a three-year-old boy, and many others have suffered prolonged physical and psychological abuse as a result of inadequate access to medical treatment.

Thai civil society organizations have raised serious concerns about the situation with the Thai Parliament’s human rights committee and with the National Human Rights Commission. The refugees are now spread across several immigration detention facilities in Thailand without effective access to international protection mechanisms like UNHCR. Aid organizations now face a complete lack of access to the group to administer treatment or offer support.

Uyghurs have increasingly been recognized, under international human rights standards, as experiencing persecution as a particular group in East Turkistan, and Uyghurs outside China continue to face state-led transnational repression abroad, the evidence of which being recently submitted by legal experts to the international criminal court.

Uyghurs who are not firmly settled in third countries face an exceptional risk of detention and refoulement, and many have faced harassment and intimidation by local authorities, often at the request of Chinese authorities.

Since 2016, the Chinese government has intensified repression and carried out a policy of mass, arbitrary detention of Uyghurs, subjecting them to severe policies including the prohibition of most religious, linguistic, and cultural practices; state-sponsored forced labour; imprisonment; and forced sterilization and birth prevention policies. As a result, it is well-established that all Uyghurs and Turkic peoples forcibly returned to China would be at serious risk of persecution.

The principle of non-refoulement firmly establishes that no one should be returned to a country where there is a real risk of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or any other human rights violation. The 52 Uyghurs must be released and granted protection by a third country on this basis.


  1. Alberta Uyghur Association 
  2. Association of East Turkistan Islamic Scholars
  3. Australian Uyghur Association
  4. Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
  5. Belgium Uyghur Association
  6. Blue Crescent Humanitarian Aid Association
  7. Campaign for Uyghurs
  8. China Research Institute
  9. Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
  10. East Turkestan Press and Media Association
  11. East Turkestan Union of Muslim Scholars
  12.  East Turkistan Association of Canada
  13. East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association
  14. East Turkistan Entrepreneur Tradesmen and Industrialists Businessmen Association
  15. East Turkistan Foundation
  16. East Turkistan New Generation Movement
  17. East Turkistan Nuzugum Culture and Family Association
  18. East Turkistan Sports and Development Association
  19. European East Turkistan Education Association
  20. European East Turkistan Union
  21. Finnish Uyghur Culture Center
  22. Furkan Education and Cooperation Association
  23. Hira Education Association
  24. Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Science and lore Foundation
  25. International union of East Turkistan Organizations
  26. Isa Yüsüp Alptekin Foundation
  27. Japan Uyghur Association
  28. Knowledge and Service Solidarity and Cooperation Association
  29. Norwegian Uyghur Committee
  30. Omer Uygur Foundation
  31. Public Association of Uyghurs “Ittipak” of the Kyrgyz Republic
  32. Satuq Bugrakhan Foundation of Science and Civilization
  33. Sweden Uyghur Union
  34. Swiss Uyghur Association
  35. UK Uyghur Association
  36. Uyghur Academy
  37. Uyghur Academy Foundation
  38. Uyghur American Association
  39. Uyghur Association of Victoria, Australia 
  40. Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy
  41. Uyghur Community in Austria
  42. Uyghur Cultural and Education Union 
  43. Uyghur Human Rights Project
  44. Uyghur Projects Foundation
  45. Uyghur Research Institue 
  46. Uyghur Research Institute 
  47. Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
  48. Uyghur Science and Civilization Research Foundation
  49. Uyghur Science and Education Foundation
  50. Uyghur Youth Union in Kazakhstan
  51. World Uyghur Congress
  52. World Uyghur Congress Foundation