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Children among the mysterious group found in the plantation

Smuggled Families Discovered as Mystery of Thailand's Trafficking Grows

Thursday, March 13, 2014
PHUKET: The ''unprecedented'' discovery of more than 200 men, women and children of unknown ethnicity in a southern rubber plantation has raised fresh concerns about Thailand's human trafficking industry.

Authorities will tomorrow be seeking to find out more about the families, mostly women and children. They are not Rohingya or Burmese, the two illegal groups most often found in southern Thailand.

With a crackdown underway on the secret jungle camps where Rohingya are held and often abused before being sold to relatives or friends in Malaysia, Immigration officers came across the large, mysterious group about 9pm last night.

Authorities have yet to determine what language the group speaks. They carried no identifying documentation.

Speculation is that they could be from Turkey, Iran or Syria or perhaps even are members of China's Uighur ethnic group.

Unlike the Rohingya, who usually arrive in Thailand with just the clothes they are wearing, the mysterious travellers were dressed for cooler weather than Thailand and carrying backpacks laden with possessions.

Close to where the mysterious group was found, officers also discovered 10 Rohingya men lying in the plantation, too ill to move.

It has become standard procedure for traffickers along Thailand's southern border to discard sick captives if a warning comes that a camp, sometimes containing hundreds of people, is about to be raided.

The Commander of Immigration Division 6, US educated Police Major General Thatchai Pitaneelaboot, led last night's raids to the surprising discovery of the families in the plantation not far from the major city of Had Yai.

On March 4, he took reporters from Phuketwan and the New York Times to Ranong, the port on the border with Burma. The reporters went part of the way out to sea as three longtail boats carried 70 Rohingya men towards Burma.

One of the boat captains later supplied photographs of the Rohingya setting foot back in Burma, not where officials are waiting to greet new arrivals in the port of Victoria Point, but further north, on a secluded stretch of beach.

On March 9, a Rohingya activist encountered five of the men back in Had Yai, southern Thailand. Five other men had been sold onto fishing boats, they told the man, while most of the rest were in the Thai-Malaysia border town of Pedang Besar.

If Rohingya deported back to Burma quickly reappear in southern Thailand and mysterious ethnic groups are now appearing, just how lucrative is human trafficking now? The industry appears largely untroubled by arrests at sea or on land.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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MH370 is located in an adjacent field, hastily covered up with banana leaves ...

Posted by geoff on March 14, 2014 08:51

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The police should try the google translate app on their iPhones.

Posted by Lena on March 14, 2014 14:07

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@ geoff you forgot to add that to avoid detection, the passengers have been hidden in transit camps, to be sold onto fishing boats, sex trade and more people smugglers. The Thai official answer to the world will be, we only thought they were Rohingya migrants and we could make money off them. Getting printed, nil chance???

Posted by DuncanB on March 14, 2014 19:35

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The human trafficking in south Thailand has been widely known to the world for a long times . Many Rohingyas lost lives, raped and sold out from trafficker camps.The heart break stories of captives are widely written especially in Phuketwan since a long times. It is very important to solve this crisis internationally. The human tragedies should be stopped soon!

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand ,BRAT. on March 17, 2014 15:05


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