Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Who out there besides me is pretty sure the Thai fishing boat slaves are once again Rohingya?

Okay, so by now everyone has heard of the Myanmar slaves found on Benjina island, Indonesia, off Papua, who had been forced to work on Thai fishing boats and kept in prison on the island, some for over 10 years.  (the most complete account is in the Jakarta Post:

The AP story comes after a year of reporting.
Do we remember why it took a year of reporting?
Because in June 2014 the world press repeated the SAME story, only this time the island was Ambon.
And in 2013 ethnic Rohingya were already being reported as being sold into slavery on Thai fishing boats.

Do these look familiar?

Special Report: Thai authorities implicated in Rohingya Muslim smuggling network (Reuters, July 2013)


Thai Slave Traders Supply Costco Shrimp (The Guardian, June 2014)


Slave labour in fishery could cost Thailand dearly (Bangkok Post, June 2014)

Are slaves catching the fish you eat? Thailand could face US sanctions for human trafficking (AP, June 2014)


Special Report: Traffickers use abductions, prison ships to feed Asian slave trade (Reuters, October, 2014)

And today, follow-up articles are “reminding” us that there are tens if not hundreds of islands across Indonesia on which upwards of 4,000 slaves are still held captive by Thai fishing corporations.

To quote Kamonpan Awaiwanont, the surprised Thai Fisheries Department representative to whom this was reported a few days ago, "This is still happening now? [pause] We are trying to solve it. This is ongoing."

This is absolutely unreal.

And although these latest articles are not saying who exactly constitutes this newest Myanmar slave population, I will guess that the slavers are extracting the same desperate people from the same impoverished, neglected, marginalized, communities: those where the Rohingya live.

 Meanwhile, back in Myanmar the legislature is toasting another successful exodus of residents who have been decreed “non-citizens.” 


And I used to be such a fan of the Buddhist way of life.

So now we have another island on which slaves are being held, and Jakarta claims to know nothing about it?  The articles claim that Benjina is a tiny island of 3,500 inhabitants.  The only Benjina I know of is the airport, on one of the larger of 90+ Aru Islands off the coast of Papua, right in the line of travel to Freeport, the world’s largest copper mine.  A small island, tucked in the lee of two larger islands not 20 miles to the west of the airport, is also called Benjina. The Aru islands are all in the shipping lanes, and the airport is heavily used by Freeport and other corporations.  No one saw anything odd when flying in, like little huts with bars and skinny men in shackles? The newest AP story reports slaves yelling for help constantly—those waters off the coast of Papua must have been filled with cries for assistance . . . and in what is probably the most heavily trafficked marine area in the region, no one from Freeport, no one from the government, no one from groups that supposedly should have been on the lookout for this activity for over two years was aware of this????


I got nothing.

No comments :

Post a Comment