Video footage has emerged of angry protesters attacking the Thai consulate in Istanbul as Thailand forcibly returned about 100 ethnic Uighurs back to China.
The Muslim Turkic ethnic minority from China’s far west Xinjiang often complain of cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.
Thailand this week ignored calls from the international community to protect the group of migrants and ensure they were not forced back to China.
Government spokesman Maj. Gen Verachon Sukhonthapatipak told The Associated Press that the group was put on a flight from a military airport outside Bangkok on Thursday morning.
He said they were put through a national verification process and “only had documents saying they were Chinese”.
He said the Thai and Chinese security agencies discussed the issue and the Chinese ensured “their safety is guaranteed.”
The Thai honorary consulate-general remained closed Thursday after it was attacked by a group protesting early unconfirmed reports of Thailand’s decision to deport the migrants.
Turkey’s Sabah Daily reported that the protesters gathered outside the consulate at around 11pm local time before breaking in to the building and smashing windows. They were later dispersed by security forces.
The embassy posted a message on its Facebook page warning Thai nationals in Turkey to exercise caution.
Reports earlier this month suggested that some Uighurs were sent after they were detained in March last year.
Tensions between Beijing and Istanbul heightened this month after Turkey accused China of mistreating Uighurs and preventing them from fasting during Ramadan.
China issued a travel warning this week after it said its citizens were “attacked and harassed” during anti-China protests in Turkey.
Additional reporting from Associated Press