Trafficking victims rescued from Thai fishing boat

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TUESDAY, 24 APRIL 2012

More than 20 Burmese nationals including four underage teenagers sold to work on a fishing boat in Thailand’s Chonburi province have been rescued by the area’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) last Friday.

On the morning of 20 April, the group was rescued by AHTD officials, according to Kyaw Thaung, coordinator of the Burmese Association of Thailand who accompanied the police during the raid.

“Some of them had been on the boat for as long as 15 months,” said Kyaw Thaung. “They smelled really bad and they had no extra clothes – some didn’t even have a slicker to wear. They also hadn’t been paid.”

The Burmese nationals had been sold by human traffickers to work on the fishing boat after they were convinced to come to Thailand with the promise of receiving well-paid jobs in Bangkok.

According to Kyaw Thaung, his group had received word from a concerned citizen in Pegu division that six fellow villagers including four teenagers had been trafficked.

“We contacted the kids’ families afterward and obtained their photos and other details,” said Kyaw Thaung. “We sent this information to the Burmese desk at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.”

One of the victims, Maung Kyaw, said he had paid the traffickers 12,000 baht to send him to Bangkok but was later sold to the fishing boat for 22,000 baht.

“I was told by my sons working in Bangkok that I can get jobs easily there. But upon reaching [there], they sold me to the boat,” said Maung Kyaw.

He said the victims were not paid and deprived of sleep during their time on the boat.

The victims will be sent back to Burma after being questioned by the police as authorities prepare to press charges against the traffickers and the boat owner.

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