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Children are trapped in a despicable trade  in human flesh in Thailand

International Media Targets 'Land of Slaves' North of Phuket

Saturday, January 19, 2013
News Analysis

PHUKET: More boatloads of Rohingya fleeing oppression in Burma are expected to arrive in a small Thai west coast port in coming days as a puzzling divide splits media coverage.

Thailand's national media - or at least the English-language media - is concentrating on national politics and the hundreds of victims recently freed from traffickers' camps.

But the international media - or at least the BBC and Aljazeera - is focussing on exposing the corruption that has led to thousands of Rohingya being abused by traffickers in Thailand over the years.

The centre of the BBC and Aljazeera reports, expected to reveal how the military, local politicians and traffickers treat the Rohingya in a modern day slave trade, will be the fishing port of Kuraburi.

Mangroves and islets surround Kuraburi, about two hours' drive north of Phuket. Over the past three days, three boatloads of Rohingya have landed, with BBC and Aljazeera journalists asking many questions.

More than 300 men, women and children have arrived on boats in successive days, and a broker has told Phuketwan that at least two more boats are due this weekend, with several other vessels out on the Andaman Sea.

How the boats are now managing to target Kuraburi is the subject of some speculation when boats have previously landed willy-nilly all along the Andaman coast, on Phuket and north and south of Phuket.

Their continuing arrival is overloading local facilities in much the same way that the refuge centres and cells in Songkhla province are being overloaded by more than 850 people ''rescued'' from transit trafficker camps on the thai-Malaysia border.

The danger for the Thai government will be in concentrating solely on providing relief for the men, women and children from the camps without dealing with the core issue - the layers of entrenched corruption that have for years lined the pockets of officials at the expense of the deprived Rohingya.

It's not possible for the local governments not to know what has been happening, the international news organisations have been told. It's not possible for boats to beat patrols at sea and brokers to beat checkpoints on land without collusion.

The Thai government needs to show as much interest in ending the corruption as it is currently showing in easing the plight of the 850 trafficking victims.

And what is the new plan for dealing with the Rohingya boatpeople who continue to arrive, and who are just as exposed to corruption and trafficking as the men, women and children ''rescued'' from the camps?

Thailand's reputation as ''The Land of Smiles'' could be in danger next week if the international media succeeds in properly exposing that other, unwanted Thailand, ''The Land of Slaves.''

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Great article, thanks.

Posted by PhuletExpat on January 19, 2013 22:29

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This is an excellent piece of journalism, thanks for staying with this ongoing story.
It's good to hear the international press is also "on" to this too.

Posted by Joy on January 20, 2013 11:28

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Very well reported, it appears phuket media have now grown some balls. Thailand is now firmly in the eyes of the world, this could adversely affect Phuket, especially if international media start to cast their eyes on Phuket corruption.

Posted by Reader on January 20, 2013 18:10

Editor Comment:

Coming from a person whose boldness extends to giving himself/herself an anonymous moniker so bland it could apply to anyone, that's laughable, Reader. We long for the day when the world exchanges balls for brains. And that includes you.


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