UN alarmed after Thailand sends activists back to China

The United Nations has voiced deep concern over the deportation of two Chinese activists by Thailand, fearing they risk being tortured once they arrive back in China.

“We strongly urge the Thai government to stop deporting individuals, including potential refugees and asylum seekers, to countries where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told journalists in Geneva.

Thailand should review cases before deportation to avoid serious risks of torture or ill treatment, she said.

The deportation followed the extradition of 109 ethnic Uyghurs to China four months ago, which alarmed the OHCHR.

Shamdasani said Thailand signed the United Nations Convention against Torture in 2007.

The UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva is examining China, along with seven other countries, this week.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to ensure that those extradited are treated in full conformity with the country’s human rights obligations,” said Shamdasani.

The two refugees had been due to depart for a third country where they were to be resettled with their family, according to the UN.

Amnesty International has also condemned Bangkok’s “shameful” decision to return refugees and dissidents to China, including a Swedish publisher.

“Thai authorities are callously disregarding their international obligations under human rights law and international refugee protection, by lending support to the Chinese authorities’ crackdown on peaceful critics at home and abroad,” the human rights group said.

The group highlighted several cases, including Swedish national Gui Minhai who went missing in Thailand on October 17 and is suspected to have been sent to China.

Gui Minhai was running a controversial publishing house in Hong Kong, specialising in books critical of China’s regime.

Maya Wang, researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the Swedish government should press for his legal rights.

“Right now the details of this case is really unclear, but if they’re being targeted because of the political books they published, then the Swedish authorities should insist that he be released immediately,” she said.

A spokesperson for Sweden’s foreign office the case was under investigation.

Three of Gui Minhai’s associates also went missing last month.


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