[JURIST] Thailand on Thursday deported 109 Uighurs back to China despite international warnings that the refugees will experience severe treatment upon returning. Significant opposition to the decision [Bangkok Post report] erupted as pro-Uighur protesters attacked [BBC report] the Thai consulate in Istanbul, leading to security forces pepper spraying the crowd. Amnesty International [advocacy website] called the deportations violations of international law [press release]. The refugees had been detained in Thailand since last year, along with approximately 50 other Uighurs that did not fled from unknown countries other than China. About 170 Uighurs were deported back to Turkey recently after their nationality was definitively determined.
Uighurs, a mainly Muslim minority group centralizing in Xinjiang, have faced persecution for many years now, especially from the dominant Chinese ethnic group, the Han. Earlier this month the Chinese government denied [BBC report] reports that the government had banned all Muslims, including Uighurs, from fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In January authorities in Urumqi, capital of the far-west Chinese province of Xinjiang, issued a new law [JURIST report] banning the wearing of burqas in public. The burqa ban was the most recent ordinance enacted by Chinese authorities effectively targeting the Uighur population. Also in January provincial authorities of Xinjiang banned students and civil servants from fasting during Ramadan. In November the People’s Court of Kashgar in the region of Xinjiang sentenced [JURIST report] 22 Muslims to prison terms for illegal religious activities and other crimes. In May 2014 Chinese officials held a public rally and sentenced 55 Uighur individuals [JURIST report] for crimes such as separatism, participation in terrorist groups and violent terrorism.