Thailand sent back to China more than 100 ethnic Uighurs on Thursday, drawing harsh criticism from the U. refugee agency and human rights groups amid concerns that those deported will face persecution by the Chinese government.Protesters in Turkey, which accepted an earlier batch of Uighur refugees from Thailand, ransacked the Thai Consulate overnight in response to the move.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that as a third country, the matter was not Thailand's problem, and that the place they were sent to — he did not name China — would take care of it according to its justice system.

"I'm asking if we don't do it this way, then how would we do it? "Or do you want us to keep them for ages until they have children for three generations? "I want to explain to the Muslims that we do not mean to hurt anyone.

We want to create peace as much as possible." The office of the U. High Commissioner for Refugees said it was "shocked" and considered Thailand's action "a flagrant violation of international law." The Uighur group had been in Thailand for over a year, along with others who had fled China and claimed to be Turkish, Verachon said.

Thai authorities sought to verify their nationalities before relocating them, he said.

"I strongly urge the Thai authorities to investigate this matter and appeal to Thailand to honor its fundamental international obligations," Volker Türk, UNHCR's assistant high commissioner for protection, said in a statement. agency said it repeatedly brought up the matter of the Uighur refugees with the Thai government, and "in response, the agency was given assurances that the matter would be handled in accordance with international legal standards, and that the group would continue to receive protection." China's position is that the Uighurs left the country illegally.

He said such deportations violate the right to protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution. Beijing has accused Uighur separatists of terrorism in Xinjiang, where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead over the past two years.

"China's relevant departments will bring those who are suspected of committing serious crimes to justice according to law," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua told reporters.

"We found that about 170 of them were Turkish, so they were recently sent to Turkey," he said.

"And about 100 were Chinese, so they were sent to China as of this morning, under the agreement that their safety is guaranteed according to humanitarian principles." He denied unconfirmed reports from Uighur activists that the refugees resisted deportation and some had been hurt.