Thu 20 Feb 2014
Filed under: ASEAN,Human Rights,News
Thai police rescued three Burmese youths from a Bangkok seafood restaurant on Wednesday, where it is believed they had been enslaved.
The two women and one man, aged between 18 and 20, from Moulmein, Mon State, had arranged to work in Thailand via a “job agent”.
Police were acting on a tip off from the Myanmar Association of Thailand.
Tinzar Naing, one of the three migrants, said they have been forced to work at Feel Pratunam Seafood Restaurant at Pratunam Market for three months without pay.
She said they had been locked in room when not working.
“The employer would lock us up in the room after finishing a day’s work and keep all the leftover food in a fridge. He wouldn’t let us have breakfast until 5pm the next afternoon when he would show up again,” said Tinzar Naing.
“We had to cook for the restaurant but we weren’t even allowed to eat any of the food we prepared.”
Kyaw Thaung is director of the Myanmar Association in Thailand (MAT), which supports the rights of Burmese people working in the country.
Kyaw Thaung said that he immediately contacted the Thai Department of Special Investigation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division on 15 February after receiving a telephone call from the trio.
“The kids phoned me up on 15 February. I asked them for their details and immediately contacted the Anti-Human Trafficking Division but could not immediately rescue them as there were official procedures to go through such as verifying whether it qualified as a human trafficking case,” he said.
The MAT director said that Tinzar Naing contacted him again on the morning of 19 February, saying that the restaurant owner had threatened to have all three arrested as illegal migrants. He said Tinzar Naing then asked for immediate rescue.
“I contacted the [Anti-Human Trafficking Division] again – they arrived soon after and we managed to rescue the kids from their workplace that afternoon,” he said, adding that the restaurant owner has now been arrested.
The trio said they are not concerned about what kind of punishment is handed out to the restaurant owner as long as they are paid their wages for the period they worked at the restaurant.