Thailand emerges as a China-Uyghur battleground

Friday Prayers at the Central Mosque, Urumqi, China, December 2009, six months after the June riots. (Photo: Michael Sainsbury)

Friday Prayers at the Central Mosque, Urumqi, China, December 2009, six months after the June riots. (Photo: Michael Sainsbury)

Michael Sainsbury
Global Pulse Magazine, April 1, 2015. 

 

Thailand has emerged as an unlikely touch point for China’s increasingly aggressive campaign against its Muslim ethnic Uyghur minority.

Beijing has been battling the Uyghurs for millenia; the latest round began in seriousness in 2009. The Communist Party’s policy of encouraging ethnic Han to migrate from their heartland to the far-flung edges of the country and the economic opportunities available to them, particularly in Xinjiang, alienated an already discontent and vocal minority.

On July 5, 2009 a protest in the provincial capital Urumqi escalated into a riot and over the ensuing three days of violence by both communities nearly 200 people died, thousands were injured and considerable damage done to property, particularly Han-owned. According to Human Rights Watch report later that year at least 43 Uyghur men and teen-age boys disappeared while in government custody following the riots….

…Thailand, the so-called Land of Smiles, has emerged as a favorite pit stop for the unprecedented flow of Uyghur refugees via a smuggling route through China across its porous mountainous border with Laos — more than 1,000 kilometers south of Xinjiang. Read more