Thai authorities claim Hungarian tourist died of illness

Death in custody comes in the wake of several similar deaths over the past years
Thai authorities claim Hungarian tourist died of illness

The immigration detention center in Bangkok has been criticized for its cramped conditions. Rights groups have condemned Thailand for its hostility to asylum seekers. (Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP)

Thai immigration authorities have ascribed a Hungarian man’s death to an unspecified illness after the 60-year-old tourist died suddenly on Jan. 26 inside a police station’s holding cell at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

The man, who appeared to show no outward signs of injury or disease on his detention, might have suffered from an existing medical condition, according to officials.

The Hungarian national was reportedly detained by Thai immigration authorities for having overstayed his visa. The man’s demise in custody comes in the wake of several similar deaths over the past years. 

Thailand’s detention facilities have long been criticized for being overcrowded or lacking basic amenities, or both.

The Southeast Asian nation, which is a favorite destination for tourists from around the world, is routinely lambasted by rights activists for treating asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries as common criminals.

Over the years hundreds of Pakistani Christians who have fled discrimination and persecution for Thailand on tourist visas have been detained for overstaying those visas while awaiting their chance to relocate to a third country as refugees.

Along with asylum seekers from other countries, many of these Christians from Pakistan have been kept, often indefinitely, in squalid, overcrowded cells at Bangkok’s immigration detention center.

The detainees have included elderly people and those with medical conditions. They receive minimal medical care during their detention, asylum seekers say.

Several detainees have died inside detention centers or have seen their health deteriorate over the years.

“My brother got very sick and he barely made it out alive,” a Pakistani Catholic asylum seeker, who was detained for two years with one of his brothers inside Bangkok’s notorious immigration detention center, told UCA News.

“Whatever medical problem we had, we were only given an aspirin pill,” he says. 

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