The Myanmar Association in Thailand (MAT) on Wednesday rescued three more Burmese migrants forced to work as slaves on Thai fishing boats.
MAT said the three men – Tin Maung Cho, Min Min and San Win – had been hiding in a forest near the port of Chonburi for two days after escaping from their fishing boat. They then contacted MAT, which is renowned as a Burmese migrant rights advocacy group in the area, who went to pick them up.
The MAT’s executive member, Aung San Oo, said the three arrived in Thailand seven months ago, tricked by their “employment agent” into believing they were getting jobs at a bakery. Instead they were sold to a fishing boat as slaves, and subjected to physical torture and abuse.
“They called us from their hiding place, saying they had escaped from a fishing boat after deciding it would be better to risk dying than being enslaved on the ship. They said they were tortured, abused, and not paid,” said Aung San Oo.
One of the three Burmese, Tin Maung Cho, told DVB by telephone that he was beaten on the head by the boat’s skipper.
“The skipper bashed me on the head with a metal bar for not knowing how to steer the boat. I fainted, but was not given any medical assistance. I had to use traditional medicine to treat the wound myself, and it is still not fully healed,” said Tin Maung Cho.
He said the three were not paid for their labour as their so-called employment brokers charged the fishing firm several months’ salaries in advance as their fee.
MAT said it is reaching out to the Burmese embassy in Bangkok to coordinate the necessary assistance for the three.
This marks the second migrant rescue in the Chonburi area by MAT staff in four days. On 25 June, the group rescued three other migrants from a fishing boat as it came in to dock at the port in Chonburi on Thailand’s eastern seaboard. The three were handed over to the Burmese embassy.
However, on 29 June, it was learnt that the rescued men – Myint Thu, Ye Myat Zaw and Aung Paing – had run away from the embassy as they did not want to be sent back to Burma. They had earlier told DVB that they wished to take their chances and try to make a living in Thailand as legal migrants.