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Thailand once again violates the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) has sent a letter to the Secretariat of Prime Minister, with a demand to meet with the Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to discuss the APRRN’s clear concern for the continuing denial of human rights to asylum seekers and refugees, as set out in APRRN’s Statement of Concern dated 20 December 2010 regarding the arrest and indefinite detention of Pakistani asylum seekers and refugees in Bangkok

On the 14th December 2010, Thai Immigration Authorities arrested and detained over 85 members of the Pakistani Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who came to Thailand in search of protection from persecution in Pakistan.  They are detained at the Immigration Detention Centre in Soi Suan Plu in Bangkok at the moment.

The persecution of the Ahmadis has been particularly severe and systematic in Pakistan – the only state to have officially declared the Ahmadis to be non-muslims. Thus, they are liable to be persecuted for practicing their religion, a clear denial of their human rights. They subsequently came to Thailand to seek asylum through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and protection from the international community, but only to face further persecution in this country.

Among the detained are approximately 30 children, including at least 14 under the age of ten, and at least one pregnant woman. Several others are quite ill – high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart and respiratory ailments.

The latest report showed that 36 detainees were already deported.  Primarily, this amounts to a violation of the customary international law principle of non-refoulement , requiring that no state shall expel or return an asylum seekers or refugee to a country where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of, in this case, his religion. The conditions of detention also arguably amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, being additional violations of Thailand’s obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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