A senior Islamic official on Monday expressed confidence that the escape of 20 Uighurs from their detention room at the Sadao immigration office in Songkhla would “bode well” for the Thai government.
Dr Wisut Binlateh, director of the coordination centre for southern provinces of the Office of the Chularajmontri of Thailand’s Islamic spiritual leader, said the escape would help free Thailand of pressure from China to deport them.
Earlier, relatives of the detained Uighurs called on the Thai government to allow them to travel to a third country, saying they are not victims of human trafficking but they are fleeing from China to join their families in Turkey.
Thailand is in dilemma as to whether it should free the Uighurs, as the Chinese government has demanded that they be deported to Xinjiang.
Thailand came under international condemnation in 2o15 when it deported 109 Uighurs to China under pressure from Beijing.
Wisut said he Uigher men had tried to escape to join their wives and children.
Wisut added that the Muslim community in Thailand has been calling on the Thai government not to repatriate Uighurs, but allow them to move on to a third country, especially Turkey.
He said these Uighurs had been kept in small detention rooms for years and they should be allowed to be resettled elsewhere for humanitarian reasons.
The 20 escapees belonged to a group of 25 detainees who were among a large group of Uighurs found at the Tone Nga Chang waterfall in Songkhla in 2015. They claimed to be Turkish and said they wanted to travel to Turkey.