Another Uyghur refugee dies after 9 years in Thailand detention centre

Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok

Human rights groups are urging Thai authorities once more to end forced prolonged detention for Uyghur refugees following the death of a Uyghur man who spent nine years inside a detention centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

Mettohti Matturson, a 40 year old Uyghur refugee from Xinjiang in China, died of suspected liver failure at Bangkok’s Suan Phlu Immigration Centre (IDC) on Friday, reports the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP).

He is the second Uyghur from his group to die at the IDC in the past two months and the fifth Uyghur detained in Thailand to die since 2018, raising the alarm again that Uyghur refugees in Thailand are not provided with adequate living conditions or adequate access to healthcare.

UHRP reports that Mettohti was detained at the IDC after illegally entering Thailand on March 13, 2014. He was one of 450 Uyghur men, women, and children who fled China and were detained by Thai authorities that year.

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Reports say that Mettohti suffered from severe stomach pains and vomiting for a few weeks. His condition worsened and developed jaundice which affected his eyes and tongue until he could no longer speak. He is believed to have died shortly after being transferred to the hospital on Friday.

In July 2015, at least 170 Uyghur women and children were taken from Thailand to Turkey. A few weeks later, 109 Uyghur men and women were deported back to China.

UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat said…

“How many more deaths will take place before Thai authorities act with humanity to release these innocent people who are merely seeking a safe haven?

“Uyghurs around the world are filled with anguish that these refugees have been left in misery for nine years and the world has not lifted a finger to rescue them.”

On February 11, 49 year old Aziz Abdullah from Xinjiang died at the IDC. The World Uyghur Congress claimed that Thai authorities refused to send him to the hospital despite his being very sick for nearly one month.

“He was coughing and vomiting blood, he could not eat. A doctor at the IDC examined him but said his condition was normal.”

Aziz was finally taken to the hospital when he collapsed but died shortly after arrival. The death certificate attributed his death to pneumonia. Both Aziz and Mettothi were transferred to the IDC in July 2022 and died there.

The WUC and UHRP are calling on the Thai government once more to release the 50 Uyghurs still detained immediately and allow them to apply for asylum or provide them with resettlement choices. The groups urge Thai authorities to avoid sending detained Uyghurs back to China (nonrefoulement).

In July last year, 52 Uyghur groups called for the end of the prolonged forced detention of 52 Uyghurs in detention. The plea was made eight years after the Chinese government loaded 109 Uyghur refugees in Thailand onto a plane and flew them to China against their will.

According to the URHP

“Since 2016, the Chinese government has intensified repression and carried out a policy of mass, arbitrary detention of Uyghurs, subjecting them to severe policies including the prohibition of most religious, linguistic, and cultural practices; state-sponsored forced labour; imprisonment; and forced sterilization and birth prevention policies. As a result, it is well-established that all Uyghurs and Turkic peoples forcibly returned to China would be at serious risk of persecution.”

Bangkok NewsThailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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