The United Nations is not pleased with Thailand following the unannounced deportation of two Chinese dissidents this weekend who had received refugee status from the UN.
The pair of unfortunate dissidents are thought to be Jiang Yefei and Dong Guangping, who had each fled to Thailand with their families after previously being held in Chinese prisons for criticizing the government, the BBC reports.
Both men were arrested in October for not having valid visas and were being held in Thailand, but were due to be settled in a third country by the UN, according to The Guardian.
Amnesty International has expressed concern that the two men have been returned to China “at risk of torture and other ill treatment.”
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency released a statement, saying: “This action by Thailand is clearly a serious disappointment and underscores the long-standing gap in Thai domestic law concerning ensuring appropriate treatment of persons with international protection need.”
Thailand has not signed the 1951 refugee convention and does not formally recognize the status of refugees and asylum seekers. However, the government says that it observes the convention in practice, so that’s nice.
The BBC provides the particulars on the two Chinese dissidents deported back to their home country:
According to the rights group Amnesty International, Mr Jiang was detained for two brief periods in 2008 after complaining about the official response to the earthquake in Sichuan province that year.
He fled to Thailand shortly afterwards with his wife.
Mr Dong was released in February this year after spending 10 months in jail in China for taking part in an event to remember people killed following protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.
He arrived in Thailand with his wife and daughter in September.
Thailand faced criticism from the United Nations earlier this year when it forcefully deported more than 100 ethnic Uighur Muslims back to China. The UNHCR called this decision “a flagrant violation of international law.” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha defended the mass deportation by saying that if “there is a problem that is not our fault.”
The refugees were fleeing unrest in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, where violence between extremists and Chinese forces has killed hundreds, hoping to make it to Turkey via Thailand.
Later, the deportation was speculated to be the reason behind the deadly bombing in Bangkok in August with the early arrest of a suspect of Uighur descent. Thai police would later accuse this man of being the bomber, he is said to have been born in China, but moved to Turkey in 2004. Police assert that he was part of a criminal gang that trafficked Uighur Muslims from China to Turkey that carried out the attack in response to a crackdown on their trade.
Under the current military rule, Thailand has strengthened its ties with China. Foreign Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn, an adviser of the Thai PM, declared a love affair that goes back 1,000 years between the two countries, and then even went a bit farther on his personal relationship with the Chinese Foreign Minister…
“At this moment we believe this is the best time for our relationship. Especially for my personal contact with minister Wang Yi who is a very nice and polite person,” he continued. “If I were a woman I would fall in love with his excellency.”