TOURISTS who visit Phuket, and most of the island’s residents, are unaware that the whole Andaman coast stretching down from Burma experiences people-smuggling in all its brutality.
Indeed, Phuket gains a special mention in a new booklet, Ten Things You Need to Know About Human Trafficking.
The booklet was launched today across mainland South-East Asia because June 12 marks the tenth anniversary of an international convention designed to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.But insidious forms of modern slavery and predatory behavior towards the young and powerless persist.
Two strong new points are made in the booklet: young males as well as females are ”sold”; and disabled, diadvantaged people are extremely useful in begging syndicates.
Here’s how Phuket figures in the booklet:
‘In April 2008, 54 Myanmarese people, mostly women, suffocated while being smuggled on a container truck across the Thai border and on to Phuket. The illegal immigrants had boarded the truck voluntarily on the promise of work opportunities in Thailand.
‘Later interviews revealed that they had paid around 5000 baht each (approx US$150) for the arrangement, but had almost no understanding of the conditions in which they would be travelling or what they would be doing on arrival.
‘The truck was filled to capacity, the victims standing, when the air conditioning broke down and the air began to run out.
”We contacted the driver using a mobile phone, but he told us in Burmese to keep quiet and make no trouble,” one survivor told the Bangkok Post newspaper. ”He switched off the phone and drove on.” continue