Thai police discovered 30 shallow graves in a possible abandoned trafficking camp on Friday, May 1st, in the southern part of Thailand. It is believed that the bodies belong to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Thailand had been labeled “Tier 3” by the US in its annual assessment on the progress made around the world in battling human trafficking. Thailand received the lowest rank available because of extremely grave facts including the kidnapping of Rohingya Muslims and of other illegal immigrants from different neighboring countries.
After these people are kidnapped, they become a source of income for the traffickers who force them labor in the garment industry, in factories, in the commercial fishing industry and worst of all, the sex industry or blackmail their families, if they can reach them.
Most of the times, the traffickers blackmail the prisoners’ families while the prisoners are forced to work, and if it turns out that they become unable to work, due to disease, exhaustion or injuries, they become a liability. The only thing that the prisoners are worth at that point is the ransom money.
And it is not at all uncommon that the traffickers contact the families of the prisoners and make them listen to how the prisoners are being beaten and tortured, in order to speed up the payment process. If for any reason the family does not comply, then the prisoners become entirely worthless and are either killed or simply left to die.
Despite the fact that Thailand has promised to work on these problems, so that the US lift its ban on imports from their country, new evidence came to prove just the opposite. The Associate Press revealed that Thai fishing boats use actual slaves from Thailand, Cambodia or Myanmar, who are forced to work under the harshest of conditions without receiving any pay and without having any of their basic needs met. They are poorly fed, a viable source of water isn’t always available and they get no medical attention whatsoever if they become ill.
But it is not only the fishing industry that appeals to the use of boats. Since it became harder and harder to establish trafficking camps on land, they have been moved on water, where people are kept for ransom under these unbearable inhuman conditions.
The traffickers are taking advantage of the desperate situations in which the immigrants find themselves and they promise them better lives and jobs in countries like Malaysia in order to get them hooked.
The camp that was discovered on Friday included several bamboo huts and was located in the middle of the forest. Its purpose is believed to have been to confine the kidnapped migrants, who in most cases had paid the traffickers to transport them to places where they were promised work. In the Songkhla mountains such camps are frequently built to hold the prisoners.
The majority of prisoners are in fact Rohingya Mulsims coming from neighboring countries in order to run from the discrimination that is waged upon them in their home countries. The majority come from Myanmar, where the situation is particularly bad.
It can almost be said that the Rohingya Muslims are the perfect victims, since in their countries, they are constantly being attacked by Buddhists and forced to run to Malaysia, where they would be safe. And when they do, they run right into the clutches of the Thai traffickers, who kidnap them and keep them in their camps.
The ransom that they ask per prisoner is usually around $2,000, which is an enormous amount of money for people so poor. So this generates even more trouble for the friends and families of the victims, who put themselves in danger in order to get the money to save their loved ones.
It is not unusual that they become slaves themselves. Blinded by despair, most of the time they borrow money from dangerous people and when they prove to be unable to pay off their debts, they get pulled into illegal industries themselves.
As for the gravesite found on Friday, the investigation is ongoing and hopefully new information will be obtained from the bodies that were taken to a hospital, so that autopsies be performed. Miraculously, one survivor was found on site. He had been left there to die, but has now been taken to the hospital to get the medical attention that he requires.
After Thai police discovered 30 shallow graves in a possible abandoned trafficking camp, he will hopefully be able to provide the authorities with more information on how the traffickers operate, so that further measures can be taken to rectify this desperate situation.
Image Source: bangkokpost.com
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