Thai authorities have arrested more than 100 Sri Lankan Tamils this week because of fears they might be taken illegally to destinations such as Canada and Australia. Those arrested are being held in an immigration detention centre and face court proceedings for violating immigration laws.
South Asian diplomatic sources say Thai authorities made the arrests because of a growing number of Sri Lankan Tamils arriving on tourist visas. Of the 130 arrested this week, more than 60 are women and children and many have lived in Thailand up to three years.
Human rights groups many have applied to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for asylum.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi says the arrests were part of normal efforts to enforce immigration laws and prevent people smuggling.