Social Issues

HRW urges immediate probe into Bangkok death of Uyghur asylum seeker

Bangkok, Apr 27 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday urged the Thai authorities to “immediately” investigate the death of a Uyghur asylum seeker who had spent nine years in immigration detention, and called for an end to indefinite detention.

In a statement, HRW said that the 40-year-old man, identified as Mattohti Mattursun (also known as Muhammad Tursun), died last Friday of liver failure at Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok, having been detained for illegal entry on Mar. 13, 2014.

Mattursun is the second Uyghur to die so far this year in this detention center in the Thai capital after Aziz Abdullah, 49, died in February, reportedly of pneumonia, it said.

HRW also asked the Thai government to put an end to indefinite detention of people seeking asylum or refuge in the country and condemned the conditions of these facilities, saying they “have long been reported to fall far short of international standards.”

“Many immigration detention centers in Thailand are severely overcrowded, provide inadequate food, have poor ventilation, and lack access to medical service and other basic necessities,” the statement said, adding that “detainees are restricted to small cells resembling cages, where they barely have room to sit, much less sleep.”

According to HRW Asia director Elaine Pearson, Mattursun’s death “should sound the alarm to end this abusive policy of incarcerating asylum seekers and refugees for prolonged periods.”

“Thai authorities are putting people seeking refugee protection at grave risk by keeping them for years in awful conditions in immigration detention centers,” she stressed.

As a Uyghur, Mattursun faced persecution or other serious harm if returned to China, HRW said.

Uyghurs are a Muslim Turkic minority living mostly in northeast China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and have seen a drastic escalation of repression and abuses since 2016, which the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said “may constitute crimes against humanity.” EFE


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