Thai authorities rounded up and detained 181 refugees from ethnic minorities in the outskirts of Bangkok on 28 August. The majority of those detained are ethnic minority Montagnards from Vietnam, many of whom are understood to be Christians. At least 50 are children.
Most of those detained have been given official refugee status by the UNHCR, but now face potential deportation back to Vietnam. Vietnamese authorities often prevent Montagnard Christians, who are indigenous to the Central Highlands of Vietnam, from meeting to worship and they also face intimidation and arbitrary detention. A special report compiled by Human Rights Watch published in 2015 stated “persecution is driving Christians from Montagnard ethnic minorities to seek asylum in neighbouring Cambodia and in Thailand”.
Thai authorities have a track record of refusing to recognise the status of refugees. Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, fleeing anti-Christian persecution in Pakistan to seek refuge in Thailand, have been detained in squalid conditions in immigration centres. A number have died while in detention due to a lack of medical care.