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Pattaya Daily News

27 May 2009 :: 20:05:28 pm 1260

The Human Trafficking Triangle Revealed

In a news item from the Associated Press, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recently released a report, based on evidence from Burmese migrants and human rights activists, claiming that illegal Myanmar migrants deported from Malaysia were frequently turned over to Thai human traffickers and forced to work in Thai brothels, fishing boats and restaurants if they had no money to buy their freedom.
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Although former Malaysian Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, had earlier dismissed the claims of human trafficking and harsh punishment for the migrants at the border as “wild allegations “, National Police Chief, Musa Hassan, confirmed that the Malaysian and Thai police as well as immigration officials were investigating the claims.

According to the Senate committee report, “a few thousand” Myanmar migrants in recent years might have become victims of extortion and trafficking once they were deported to Thailand. “Upon arrival at the Malaysia-Thailand border, human traffickers reportedly take possession of the migrants,” the report asserted. “Migrants state that those unable to pay (the traffickers) are turned over to human peddlers in Thailand, representing a variety of business interests ranging from fishing boats to brothels,” it added.

Beautiful women were often sold to brothels, or if not so attractive, the females were sold to restaurants or housekeeping agencies, according to an unidentified migrant. The US called on Malaysia to investigate and prosecute “the trafficking, selling and slavery of Burmese and other migrants”. The New York-based Human Rights Watch declared that Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak “should act on this U.S. Senate report to protect the rights of refugees and victims of human trafficking.” The U.N. refugee agency has registered 47,600 refugees living in Malaysia in March, of whom 42,300 were from Myanmar.

In a similar vein, the Western Frontier, concentrated in Kanchanaburi Province, is revealed as being a leaking sieve, specifically at Sangkhla Buri, Thong Pha Phum, Sai Yok and Si Sawat, where illicit drugs and illegal migrants are trafficked across Thailand and some into Malaysia., according to an anonymous source in the Surasi Task Force, which polices the western frontier with Burma.

The source maintained the traffickers keep a low profile and the problem doesn’t feature prominently in the news because “the trafficking rings and corrupt officials try to conduct their business quietly. The illegal activities involve many interest groups including state authorities, who often receive kickbacks to facilitate the process.”

From Kanchanaburi, the illegal migrants (largely ethnic Karen and Mon) and drugs are usually delivered to Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Chonburi, Bangkok and some into Hat Yai, who later vanish into Malaysia. The cost is not cheap for the migrants, however. Initially, the migrants must pay Burmese brokers Bt5,000 to smuggle them across the border and house them on the Thai side, dodging the authorities en route. If they wish to continue further, the ‘broker facilitation‘cost varies from another Bt15,000 to Samut Songkhram or Samut Sakhon, Bt18,000 to Bangkok or Chonburi, and from Bt 20-25,000 to reach the southern provinces or Malaysia.

Ethnic militant groups in Burma like the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and Karen Peace Front also have a stake in the human trafficking. For their part, a spokesman for the brokers maintained some of his “clients” had sold their land in Burma to finance their trip to Thailand “in the hope of realising their dream of a better life”.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Editorial

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