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…