Canada deeply disappointed on Thai action on Chinese refugees

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government said on Wednesday it had registered serious concern with Thailand and China over a decision by Bangkok to send back to China two Chinese refugees who were awaiting resettlement in Canada.

The two Chinese men were under the protection of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said Francois Lasalle, spokesman for Canada’s foreign ministry.

“We have expressed serious concerns with both countries, including our deep disappointment that the individuals were sent by Thai authorities back to China ‎despite being in possession of UNHCR protection documents,” Lasalle said.

The Thai junta knew that two Chinese men it detained were refugees awaiting resettlement in Canada but still deported them to China, according to a United Nations letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, reported on by Reuters on Nov. 30 contradicts Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s statement last month that Thailand “did not know” that the men were under UNHCR protection.

Military-ruled Thailand arrested the men, Jiang Yefei and Dong Guangping, on Oct. 28 and deported them at Beijing’s request in mid-November.

In the letter, dated Nov. 16, the UNHCR raised its objections to the deportations and reminded the Thai foreign ministry that it had informed the government in writing on Nov. 10 that the men were refugees and had been accepted for rapid resettlement by Canada.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Sandra Maler