Thai officials on Monday rejected allegations by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) that six Uyghur men were beaten and denied medical treatment at a detention facility in Bangkok.
“In this case, we can confirm that it was not true. Because in the past, besides arresting them [Uyghurs] for illegal entry, we focused on giving [them] humanitarian assistance,” Deputy governmental spokesman Maj.Gen. Weerachon Sukhontapatipak told BenarNews.
“If there is no evidence, they cannot make a blank accusation,” he said.
Weerachon was among Thai officials responding to questions about a statement issued Friday by the Munich-based WUC, which expressed alarm “at the continued mistreatment of Uyghur refugees in Thai detention facilities” and alleged that six Uyghurs were “badly beaten” by police at a facility in Bangkok on Feb. 29.
“We are also deeply concerned that Thai authorities have not allowed for proper access to medical treatment for their injuries,” said the organization that advocates rights for ethnic Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority that faces repression in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region.
Police Lt. Gen. Nathathorn Prosunthorn, who heads the Immigration Bureau that oversees detention facilities for undocumented immigrants nationwide, labeled the WUC’s allegations as false.
“There is no such thing,” Nathathorn told BenarNews. “We have only handful of Uyghurs in Bangkok. Most of them are in the south.”
“The claimed content on the [WUC’s] website was false. Uyghur [detainees] didn’t even cause police problems at all,” he added.
Nathathorn was referring to a specific allegation from the WUC about the six Uyghur men being beaten up by police after getting into a heated exchange with some officers at the Central Bangkok detention facility.
“The group [of Uyghur men] took exception to the fact that Thai officials at the facility had been watching an erotic film in the presence of the detainees, which then led to an argument between the two groups,” the WUC said.
“Thai police were subsequently called in to calm the situation and reportedly beat the men, one of [whom] sustained serious head injuries,” the statement in English added.
It noted that the six men and another 50 Uyghurs had been held at facilities in Bangkok for at least two years after being discovered at a human trafficking camp in southern Thailand.
“We remain rightly concerned that this mistreatment and lack of proper access to medical treatment will continue until the group is finally released from these facilities,” the WUC went on to say.
“It is now the obligation of the Thai government to ensure that the remaining group of Uyghur refugees [is] freed from detention in a timely manner and that they are provided adequate care.”
In July 2015, the World Uyghur Congress and rights groups criticized Thailand for forcibly repatriating nearly 100 Uyghurs to China – a move that sparked protests in Turkey, which is home to one of the largest Uyghur communities outside Xinjiang.
The WUC also said then it had obtained “direct information from a source on the ground in Thailand who indicated that at least 25 men were also killed trying to resist boarding the plane” – an allegation that Bangkok also rejected. But the WUC appeared to have taken down the statement hours after publishing it on its website.