Myanmar Victims Rescued in Thailand

Forced LaborHuman TraffickingRehabilitation & Liberation

There were recently 19 Myanmar victims rescued from forced labor in Thailand.  It is being called a rare policing success against the criminal networks that dominate that region…

The victims were found by police, locked up on an fishing vessel with an Indonesian-flag and just off the Thai coast in the southern Pattani district.   The raid was initiated after the families of some of the victims alerted a local support group, the Myanmar Association in Thailand, a local support group.

Kyaw Thaung is the director of the association and said that some of them were as young as 13 and had been lured with promises of better work in Bangkok.  Then they ended up locked on a fishing vessel. “A police force raided the fishing boat to Indonesia and found 19 Burmese workers there. They had been there about 10 days already.”

They also arrested a Burmese broker at the scene. Thai police did not respond to requests for comment.  However a source at Myanmar’s human trafficking police division in Naypyidaw confirmed that 19 citizens had been rescued.

Drawn by the lure of comparatively higher wages, millions of Myanmar’s poor work inside Thailand, often in unregulated industries where they routinely face exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous employers.

The kingdom had long been a human trafficking hub, aided by officials who either turned a blind eye or were complicit in the grim but lucrative trade. Since seizing power in 2014, Thailand’s junta government has tried to clean up the country’s image, launching a crackdown last year against human traffickers with some success. It has also tried to reform the country’s multi-billion-dollar fishing sector, which has long been accused of using widespread slave labour.

The raid proves that human trafficking criminal networks are continuing to find ways to traffic Myanmar victims and other vulnerable migrant workers.

NOTE: Accompanying photo:  A fishing port in Thailand’s southern province of Pattani ©Tuwaedaniya Meringing (AFP/File)

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