Migrants tell of slavery at sea on Thai fishing boats


Thousands of men from Myanmar and Cambodia set sail on Thai fishing boats every day, but many are unwilling seafarers -- slaves forced to work in brutal conditions under threat of death.

The day Hla Myint saw the sea for the first time was when traffickers delivered him, after a week’s trek through the jungle from Myanmar, to a ship on Thailand’s coast.
He said it was the beginning of seven months of “hell”, during which there were beatings “every day, every hour”.
His is one of a multitude of stories of slavery in Thailand’s multi-million dollar fishing industry, which campaigners say relies on forced labour to provide seafood for restaurants and supermarkets around the world.
Hla Myint decided to escape — throwing himself into choppy waters and clinging to a life buoy for five hours before reaching land — after seeing his captain kill a crewmate.
The man, who had been caught trying to escape, was savagely beaten and tortured in front of the rest of the fishermen.
“Later they took him to the back of the ship, stood him on the edge and shot him in the head. My heart pounded so hard when I saw that,” said Hla Myint, whose name AFP has changed to protect his identity.
Now he works with a local aid group helping others to flee.
He told his story to AFP during a dash to rescue four young Myanmar men hiding in bushes near the coastal town of Rayong, just hours after they broke out of a locked room and ran for their lives.
“They threatened that if we tried to run away, one bullet cost only 25 baht ($0.83),” said Myo Oo, 20, whose name has also been changed.
Another member of the group, a teenager clearly still petrified, described beatings with the butt of a gun.

Source: Migrants tell of slavery at sea on Thai fishing boats

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