A group of people suspected to be Chinese nationals from Xinjiang have escaped from a Thai detention center after illegally entering the country. It’s believed the group were being smuggled into the country when they were caught.
The Bangkok Post reported 137 people, all of whom were caught trying to sneak into Thailand, broke out of government complex in Songkhla Province in the southern part of the country. Only a small number of these escaped detainees were recaptured.
According to a source, the appearance, dress, and mannerisms of people in the group are consistent with people from Xinjiang, though the reports stopped short of claiming they are Uyghurs. None of the people carried ID and claimed to come from Turkey.
The detainees escapped between November 1 and November 5 at two different facilities, one for male detainees and one for female. Nonetheless, they managed to escape from both. Only about 40 people remain at the detention center.
So far, the Turkish Embassy has not claimed any of the group as Turkish nationals.
Thai police wanted to send the group back to China, but they were encouraged by the US and European authorities to avoid returning them as they may face “harsher penalties” back in China.
According to the Associated Press on November 15, a member of the Chinese consulate stationed in Songkhla refuted these accusations, saying:
As long as they don’t have a criminal record, they will not face any punishments after returning to China.