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Historic release

Bangkok Post January 28, 2012. "Two children, together with their mother and a relative were released from the immigration detention centre yesterday in a case human rights workers hope is the start of a more humanitarian policy towards migrants."

"Two stateless children, their mother and another member of their family were released yesterday after 20 months in detention in a landmark case.

It is the first time stateless children arrested in Thailand have been allowed to go free as the country moves toward a more humanitarian policy in dealing with refugees and asylum seekers.

The four, whose names are being withheld, were released on bail from the Immigration Detention Centre and can now legally live in Thailand while awaiting resettlement in a third country.

The four were arrested in May 2010 in Chiang Mai where they had settled after they migrated from Vietnam through Laos to Thailand in June 2008.

During their detention, they were reportedly faced with relentless persecution, harassment and discrimination during endless interrogations by government officials and police.

Their release was fought for by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which has launched a national campaign against the detention of children. The NHRC had appealed to the Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation and the Refugee and Stateless Persons Freedom Fund, which put up the bail for the four.

The family was given one million baht by Cognita, a United Kingdom-based private school group, so the children, a boy and a girl, can attend its local school before resettlement in a third country.

"We have been working together with other civil society organisations as well as national human rights commissions of our neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia to try to find some solution [to the stateless person issue]," said NHRC chairperson Amara Pongsapich.

She said contributions from civic societies and people from different countries show that many people around the world can join hands and work together for human rights.

"We strongly believe that education is the right of every child in society. With the release of this family, we want to assure their mother that we are here to assist her in developing the children's capabilities and help them lead educated lives in Thailand and hopefully when they resettle in the United States," said Annie Hansen, director of admissions and marketing of St Andrews International School, which will admit the children."



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