UNHCR Political Refugees from China Say Thailand No Longer Safe Haven
BANGKOK – Chinese political refugees in Thailand, many of whom smuggled themselves across Southeast Asia to escape persecution by the authorities back home, say the country is no longer a safe haven for dissidents, as the Thai authorities seem increasingly willing to hand them back over to Beijing.
Several Chinese asylum-seekersâ€”some of whom were recognized by the United Nations as genuine refugeesâ€”have been deported for immigration violations, throwing the expatriate dissident community into a state of constant fear, some told RFA in recent interviews.
“The Thai government began an operation to round up any foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas,” Wu Yuhua, a rights activist who escaped to Thailand more than a year ago,said.
“This means that the Chinese refugees are now living in constant fear, every day,” she said. “We fear that one day, it’ll be us who gets taken in.”
Thailand is no longer the safe haven it once was for Chinese dissidents fleeing persecution, according to Wu and many others like her.
“It’s not so much being locked up in immigration detention. That’s not so bad, but if we get repatriated, we will definitely wind up in jail,” Wu said.
Some rights activists never even make it as far as Thailand, she said, citing the case of Liu Jiaqing, who was arrested by police in Myanmar.
Those who do get to Thailand face the constant threat of detention, as well as official retaliation against loved ones back in China, she told RFA.
Thailand-based dissident Liu Xuehong said Thailand now seems to be full of Chinese agents, Chinese agents are busy eroding any support for refugees, either among each other or from supporters in Thailand.
“Their aim is to obstruct us, and to stop us from speaking out,” Liu said. “Even the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is concerned about our safety.”
Last November, Chinese asylum seekers Jiang Yefei and Dong Guangping, who had fled persecution in their home country, were handed back to Chinese by Thai authorities in a move that drew strong criticism from the U.N. at the time.
They are now in pretrial detention in the southwestern city of Chongqing.
The fear of meeting a similar fate has left many Chinese asylum-seekers in serious financial difficulties, he said.
By Qiao Long,
Read Full Story here….Radio Free Asia
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