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Thai authorities rescue migrants enslaved on fishing vessels

Eighteen Burmese migrants forced to work as slaves on a Thai fishing boat were rescued by the Thai police’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division on 22 July at a port 300 kilometers southeast of Bangkok in Laem Ngop district, Trat province.

Kyaw Thaung, coordinator of the Burmese Association of Thailand that assisted the police during the rescue, said teenagers were among the trafficking victims.

“There is a Karen boy and a Mon girl, age 14 and 15 respectively. There were 18 people rescued from the boat,” said Kyaw Thaung.

“Some of them came to Thailand looking for jobs in Bangkok and Mahachai… and they only realised they were being sold when they got on the boat.

“There are about six young Karen males who had been working there for about eight months without getting a penny for their labour.”

He said most of the victims on the boat came into Thailand through a border crossing at Payathonsu, which is known as the Three Pagoda Pass in Karen state.

“I was working in Rangoon before I made contact with a friend there and came to Thailand. We were taken to Thailand via Moulmein and Payathonsu,” said one of the victims Maung Maung from the Irrawaddy delta’s Bogale township.

“The [traffickers] asked us to bring 400,000 Kyat to get us passports. I only had 300,000 with me and gave them that but no passport was provided,” said Maung Maung. “Then I found myself in this seaside town – I was told to work here without pay to cover the 18,000 Baht [the fishing boat paid the traffickers.]

Maung Maung later contacted Kyaw Kyaw Lwin who works with the Labour Affairs Committee at the Burmese Embassy [in Bangkok] who then got in touch with Kyaw Thaung.

In June 11 Burmese trafficking victims were rescued from similar circumstances in Chonburi province.

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