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A man in Kaper with a neckband indicating he'd been sold to a ''broker''

Trafficking Rebellion Grows: Bangkok Sends Investigators to Probe Thailand's Trade in Boatpeople

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
KAPER: Checkpoints have been set up by anti-human trafficking officials on the main road towards Phuket to ensure hundreds of boatpeople, arrested at the weekend, are not suddenly trucked south to Thailand's notorious secret border jungle camps.

The checkpoints, manned by staff of the district chief of Takuapa, represent the new mood of resistance by some residents along the Andaman Sea to the inhumane trade in people that has flourished down Thailand's western coast over the past five years.

These people want to end the brutality, the rapes and the deaths that have been occurring in hidden camps along the Thai-Malaysia border, destroying the lives of Rohingya and with them, Thailand's reputation.

Later today, officials from the Department of Special Investigation and the Army's Internal Security Operations Command from Bangkok will begin a probe into whether human trafficking is flourishing along Thailand's Andaman coast, especially in the provinces of Ranong and Phang Nga.

Activists and officials from Phang Nga say that some of the seven men arrested with the latest 256 boatpeople in Ranong were previously arrested just days ago in Phang Nga and charged with trafficking 134 Rohingya and Bangladeshi boatpeople.

How these men came to be free and working with another load of boatpeople so soon will be among the questions being asked by the senior DSI and ISOC investigators due to arrive on Tuesday from the capital.

That the issue is finally being investigated is a measure of the scale of the people's uprising taking place against covert human trafficking in Thailand.

Led by Takuapa district chief Manit Pleantong, the Christian, Buddhist and Muslim activists are railing against the way that boatpeople are quickly processed by local police as ''illegal migrants,'' feeding the trade in people that has brought Thailand's reputation into disrepute.

The anti-traffickers from the province of Phang Nga have moved north into the neighboring province of Ranong, where others are now coming to realise that perhaps the activists and volunteers have a point.

The 256 men, women and children apprehended at the weekend are still in the community hall at the township of Kaper, where they were processed with speed at the weekend and declared to be ''illegal migrants.''

There was talk of putting them all back to sea immediately, even though some of the women appeared exhausted and too sick to travel, especially into the storm gripping the coast at the time.

Now it seems that authorities in Bangkok are reacting.

It's not possible to say conclusively without thorough questioning whether the latest boatload of men, women and children to arrive in Thailand are trafficking victims.

But without a sensible policy in place, it's plain that boatpeople have been traded along the coast for some years, in growing numbers, to the benefit of traffickers.

Halting the horrific trade requires Thailand to implement a policy and provide a budget that removes the traffickers from the process.

A Phuketwan reporter came through a checkpoint, set up in Kuraburi, not far from Takuapa, late last night.

A torch was shone into the vehicle and the driver was asked to declare how many people he was carrying as passengers.

Over the past five years, not very many torches have been shone into vehicles at checkpoints on the roads south and north.

Few questions have been asked as newly-arrived boatpeople have been trucked directly to the horror of the secret southern camps, or north to the Thai-Burma border to be ''deported'' to traffickers so they could try to reach sanctuary in Malaysia by sea all over again.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Very good that Bangkok Investigators let their torches shine on this enormous smelling matter. 7 Slave handlers were arrested and a few days later some of these culprits did show up again in their 'trading'? Hm, than their previous arrest must have been a 'misunderstanding'. Right? Hope that the BKK Investigation team can clear matters.

Posted by Kurt on November 11, 2014 12:45

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