52 Trafficked Burmese Rescued in Thailand

16 June 2011, Irrawaddy news

The rescued trafficking victims wait to be processed at the police detention center in Suphan Buri, Thailand. (PHOTO: TACDB)

At least 52 Burmese victims of a human trafficking gang were rescued on Tuesday morning by police in Sam Chuk District, Suphan Buri Province, in Thailand, after a raid conducted in cooperation with the Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB), a Thailand-based NGO.

The trafficking victims are currently being detained by the Anti-Human Trafficking Division in Bangkok while Thai authorities investigate the case. An official from the Anti-Human Trafficking Division police unit told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the trafficking gang was comprised of two Burmese and five Thais.

Myint Wai, the assistance director of TACDB, said that the rescue operation was launched on Monday evening, but that the members of the gang were seized the following morning. “If the Thai authorities come to the conclusion that the rescued people are the real victims in this case, they will be deported without further action,” he said. “However, as the case may take a long time, the Thai authorities have agreed to allow those people to work while they are staying at the detention center.”

The rescue operation was launched after a Burmese woman named Htay Htay had lodged a complaint saying that her daughter and son-in-law had been kidnapped.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, Htay Htay, 41, said, “The broker who helped kidnap my daughter and her husband called me every day and said that if I wanted to get my daughter back, I had to give them [the trafficking gang] 100,000 baht [US $3,000]. I told them I couldn’t afford that much. Then I referred the matter to the TACDB.”

The police tracked down Htay Htay’s son-in-law along with the broker, in Samut Prakarn Province, just outside Bangkok. After questioning, the broker led them to a compound with two houses in Suphan Buri Province.

Ko Naing, a member of TACDB who was involved in the rescue operation, said, “We planned to seize them on Monday, but it was dark and we couldn’t find the compound. The next morning, with the support of the local police, we raided the compound.”

According to TACDB, 29 men and 26 women were rescued from the premises. The police withheld three motor vehicles, several hundreds of thousands of Thai baht, and some documents believed to belong to the traffickers.

At least 2 million Burmese immigrants are currently living and/or working in Thailand, according to NGOs.

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