Target: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Goal: Give trafficking victims the shelter and care they deserve
Thailand sits lowest in the rank of the annual U.S. report on human trafficking. Since September 2014, 171 trafficking victims—mostly Bangladeshi men—have been rescued within Thai borders. Sadly, the fate of the victims once they are found is often horrifying. After their rescue, many victims face treatment as illegal immigrants, held in cramped, unhygienic prison cells for an indefinite period of time.
Local district chief, Manit Pianthiong, is largely responsible for the most recent rescues, smuggled into the country along the Takua Pa coastline. As well as Bangladeshi men, many Rohingyas—an ethnic Muslim minority often captured fleeing persecution—were among those rescued. Efforts by Pianthiong to give all of the men victim status, thereby providing them shelter and care until they can return home, has been met with resistance, and only one of the three groups has been classified as victims, though even that decision faces repeal.
The men found by Pianthiong tell similar stories of being tricked while in search of work and later finding themselves on boats, beaten and starved, heading to the Thai coastline where they were spirited away to jungle camps and held until their rescue. Those who were not found were most likely sold.
It is unclear what officials who wish to refuse victim status to the rescued men hope to accomplish by keeping them from necessary shelter and care. Possibly, they hope to improve their country’s trafficking status by hiding them amongst hordes of immigrants fleeing poverty, oppression and persecution in Thailand. Whatever the reason, the decision stands to cause victims of trafficking further undue suffering.
Sign this letter and urge the Thai government to treat those rescued within the nation’s borders in the manner they deserve.
Dear Prime minister Chan-o-cha,
Thailand remains particularly susceptible to smuggling and human trafficking with its porous borders and large coastline. A recent and particularly heinous scourge in trafficking preys largely on poor Bangladeshi men and ethnic minority Rohingyas, smuggled in along the coast, held, tortured, starved, and later sold as slaves. Thanks to the efforts of district chief, Manit Pianthiong, rescues of these trafficking victims have increased, but the fate of these men once they are found remains uncertain.
Without victim status, these men will not receive the necessary assistance they deserve. Many officials wish to classify them instead as illegal immigrants, forcing them to undergo treatment as criminals. Releasing these men from their captors to place them in cramped cells for indefinite periods of time is horrific and inhumane.
I urge you to offer all rescued victims of trafficking status as victims and afford them assistance, not undue punishment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SeaDave via Wikimedia Commons