In March 2013, 14 victims aged between 16 and 46 years, and all from Myanmar, were rescued by local police from a fishing port and processing factory in Kantang where they were being held by brokers. Most of the victims had just returned from six months at sea, on three separate fishing vessels. Despite receiving no pay, by selling dried squid to the boat they transferred fish to, one of the group was able to save enough money to buy a mobile phone and SIM card. This enabled them to alert one of the other victim’s family members, who contacted a helpline for reporting human trafficking to secure their rescue. The Environmental Justice Foundation interviewed six victims, none of whom had ever been on a fishing boat, or even seen the sea before being trafficked. They gave accounts of being deceived by brokers who told them they would be working in factories. They reported being beaten or seeing others beaten, and working in arduous conditions onboard the fishing vessels. Three of the victims had been trafficked from within Thailand, whilst working in a chicken factory in the north of the country. A visiting broker had told them that he would secure them a better job in another factory, with higher wages. "Kyi" recounts some of the brutal violence used against him and others being forced to work on these ships.
It happened soon after I arrived in Thailand. Since I refused to work on the fishing boat, I was beaten up very badly. The agent Ko Myo attacked me using a knife. My right hand was cut and the wound was pretty bad. It happened in a room near the pier. I had been kept in this room for 7 months before I was placed on the boat.
The first ever murder that took place right before my eyes was when my friend was killed by Ko Myo and his thugs. Although he was referred to as my friend, I did not know his name. He was among a group when I came to Thailand. When I was left in the room because of the knife injury, he was sent to the boat. Similarly, he tried to run away but failed and was sent back to the room. Ko Myo and his thugs beat him to death using wooden rods.
I also saw that they killed three men at the same time in the room. They were accused of conspiring to flee. They were taken into the room and beaten. Then they were executed by Ko Myo. Ko Myo shot them using his gun. There were the letters ‘USA’ on his gun. He used lead balls as the bullets. They were shot in their foreheads by Ko Myo. At first, Ko Myo asked Charlie to kill them but Charlie showed hesitation. Then Ko Myo said, ‘I will show you how to kill’ and he shot them.
As told to the Environmental Justice Foundation