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A Rohingya shows scars from a wound he says was inflicted by kidnappers

Boatpeople Kidnapped by Traffickers

Sunday, October 12, 2014
TAKUAPA: Fifty-three boatpeople captured north of Phuket have made remarkable allegations that they were unwilling travellers from Bangladesh, kidnapped one by one by gangs and forced onto a fishing boat by human traffickers.

If the claims are authenticated, then the exodus of the stateless Rohingya down Thailand's Andaman Sea coast from Burma and Bangladesh is now being exploited by brutal mercenaries, interested only in the profit that can be made from selling people.

Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security is applying to a court in the town of Takuapa, north of Phuket, on Sunday to have the 53 boatpeople declared victims of human trafficking.

A declaration by the court would prevent local police quickly deporting the group as illegal migrants and oblige officers to investigate the evidence of mass kidnapping gleaned during several hours of interviews last night.

All of the boatpeople were questioned individually over their allegations. Each dramatic first-person account supported claims that a kidnapping gang is now snatching people in Bangladesh, simply because the process of abusing captives in the jungle camps in southern Thailand has become so lucrative.

Large sums are usually extorted from the captives' relatives before the victims are taken across the border to Malaysia.

But if what these boatpeople say is true, they have all been kidnapped solely for the purpose of extorting ransoms. They haven't wanted to flee to Malaysia.

The claims and the theory have yet to be proven by independent authorities. But a Phuketwan reporter who helped to interview 25 of the 53 men into the early hours of today said that the stories were consistent - and nightmarish.

An electrician who said he was snatched by a gang of men after being called to repair a house in Cox's Bazaar said: ''I worry about my mother. I feed her medicine every day. Since I was kidnapped, she will have had nobody to give her the medicine.''

A fisherman enticed to repair a net on a stranger's boat said he was grabbed and had his wrists tied. He said: ''I was kidnapped. I don't have relatives in Malaysia. I wasn't planning on leaving Bangladesh in this way. My wife and children are there and will not know where I am.''

A farmer who said he went to repair a roof was locked inside with four others. He said: ''They bound my arms behind my back and took us all at night to a small boat, then onto a bigger boat.''

A 17-year-old boy said he was a student with no intention of quitting his schoolwork. He said: ''I went to update my telephone credit at a shop and a man grabbed me and put his hand over my mouth. I ended up in the boat. Mt parents will be wondering where I am.''

A market delivery man from Cox's Bazaar, recently arrived from Rakhine state in Burma (Myanmar), said: ''Four or five men persuaded me to go to a house for a better job. I went with them and was beaten and then taken to the boat.''

A Bangladesh tourist from another town who went to visit the sea said he was offered a guided tour. ''The guides took me onto a boat. Before I could say anything, they kept taking me out to sea. They told me I was going to Malaysia.''

The men said they were transported in the airless and windowless hold of a fishing boat for five days, south from Cox's Bazaar to a jungle-covered island off Thailand's coast.

Local municipal authorities, acting on a tipoff, arrested the 53 men as they were being held in a plantation by the roadside near Takuapa about 4am yesterday.

Two Thai men, local people, have been arrested and are being held pending an outcome to the human trafficking application in court.

One of the boatpeople showed whiplash wounds on his neck that he said were the result of abuses in the secret jungle camp off the coast. Others said that there were 310 people on the boat from Cox's Bazaar.

Some boatpeople had been trucked south before them, and more, still being held on the island, were to follow. Authorities raided the secret island camp late yesterday and found it disused and empty.

Most of the men apprehended yesterday are Rohingya living in a UNHCR camp in Bangladesh.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Despicable treatment and despicable people.
These atrocities have been going on for years and still no one with real power (governments) do much about it.
What are the Bangladeshi and Thai as well as Burmese government actively doing to stop this?

Posted by Tbs on October 12, 2014 09:03

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I complement and highly respect the PhuketWan journalists who so very clear and understandable publish this article. I hope the Prime Minister and NCPO are taking now swift actions against all thai authorities, thai influencial people, thai camp Guards, thai police officers involved. This is more serious stuff than for example a few illegal tour guides. It is not for nothing that Thailand internationally has been downgraded due to this slavery kidnappings and human trafficking. Thai Government, act NOW! Action from
Bangkok, not local authorities. Same time clean up the corrupt mess of the Phuket immigration.

Posted by Kurt on October 12, 2014 12:30

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So sad.....
Thailand must investigate AND arrest AND convict all, - including government officials involved in this disgusting business!
Yes, I said 'government officials' as it is impossible to do this business without the blessing of certain government officials.
Only of those people are arrested, convicted and locked up for a long time the rest of the world will take Thailand more seriously.

Posted by Mr. K on October 12, 2014 12:43

Editor Comment:

The problem is that the good organisations are reluctant to act against the wrong-doers, either in their organisation or other organisations. That has to change. Human trafficking and corruption needlessly damage Thailand's image.

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Where is the Royal Thai Navy at sea to intercept these slave labor transports?

Posted by Kurt on October 12, 2014 12:44

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All this human trafficking by thai influencial people is very bad. It down graded Thailand internationally. I think you not need submarines but fast patrol vessels with intelligence equipment to intercept the thai human trafficers, and protect thai shore lines.

Posted by Kurt on October 12, 2014 13:16

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How can the gang be sure of that the captives' relatives were able to pay huge ransoms?

Most of the boatpeople do not appear to be wealthy. What would have happened to them, if no ransom was paid?

Posted by Sherlock on October 12, 2014 15:49

Editor Comment:

Well, nobody knows for sure because the others on the boat - there were 310 to begin with - have not been traced. But it appears kidnappers are not shanghaiing people who don't want to go to Malaysia. There can be only one reason for that.

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The open kidnapping Rohingyas in Bangladesh and compelling Rohingyas for deserting their ownland Arakan is a big topic for global civilized people .The recent citizenship VARIFICATION OPERATION AND FORCING ROHINGAYA TO CHANGE THEIR ANCESTRAL ETHNIC NAME LEAD MORE ROHINGYA FLEEING .Its needs to be solved immediately. The big trawlers which can carry around 400 to 800 persons were owned by combined human trafficker gangs consist of a handful Rohingyas andThais .If the trafficers' ship fail to get enough Rohingyas from Arakan ,their organized or appointed muscle men from Bangladesh randomly kidnap Rohingyas from Refugee camps.After arriving in Thailand ,these captives are directly sent to concentration camps run by traffickers in the south. There, the victims are sold .tortured ,killed and raped around the clock. The trafficker ask every captives around 2000 to 2500 USD to be freed. If this crime against the humanity is neglected by Bangladesh ,Thailand and Malaysia ,the traffickers will be more desperate and the human tragedy will not be ended . Burma genocide to Rohingya breeds more traffickers . This should be stopped urgently. Burma should be warned to stop GENOCIDE .

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President of Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on October 13, 2014 01:41

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Well, I just red that there are 2 thai persons arrested concerning this 53 kidnapped people. Fantastic! Thai Justice works fast. Right? ( cynical joke). There must be a very big Thai influential organization working here secretly, with a lot of tea money available to be left alone. Just 2 thai arrested only!

Posted by Kurt on October 13, 2014 10:24


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