Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, Kartik 6, 1421, Zilhajj 25, 1435 Hijr

BD, Thailand  verifying identity of rescued ?slaves?
Diplomatic Correspondent
Publish Date : 2014-10-21,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 99
Bangladesh Embassy officials in Bangkok along with Thai authorities are conducting verification of the trafficked Bangladeshis who were enslaved lured by the offer of better jobs abroad.
Bangladesh authorities quoting Thai officials claims that the detention centres have housed 118 Bangladeshi nationals. But media in Thailand claims nearly 300 were abducted and brought to Thailand.
The whereabouts of 176 people, including three women, who were on a human trafficker's boat that left Bangladesh, could not be ascertained.
More than half of the group had been forced to swim ashore from a remote island after Thai authorities learnt the traffickers had landed a large group of people there.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Embassy officials have reached both the detention centres near Phuket in southern Thailand where the trafficked Bangladeshi are confined for investigation.
Acting Foreign Secretary Mustafa Kamal explained that there would no problem to repatriate our nationals after the verification as Dhaka and Bangkok have "smooth" relations with each other.
The Bangladesh Embassy in Bangkok maintains good relationship with the Thai authorities. "We have brought back nationals earlier. So there would be no problem this time, either," Kamal quipped.
He said the Thai authorities informed Bangladesh that 118 people had identified themselves as citizens of Bangladesh among the 134 people rescued in two groups. The Thai authorities are interviewing the victims in different detention centres.
Foreign Office believes that human trafficking is conducted by organised criminal gangs and was also confirmed by the Thai police.
The human traffickers illegally took the passengers from Bangladesh and Myanmar by sea route and abandoned them at a rubber garden near Phuket sensing the presence of law enforcers.
The group of 176 are believed to have been taken off the island by human smugglers before authorities arrived, a Phuket based online media Phuketwan claimed.
There are fears traffickers had intended to sell the passengers on board to fishing trawlers or factories as slave labour in Malaysia and Indonesia.
"We have not seen this type of incident before," a Bangladesh diplomat told Phuketwan. He understands that usually kidnapping does not happen in Bangladesh, he said.
Foreign Office argued that the victims are case of human trafficking, but do not agree that the victims were kidnapped from Bangladesh territory. The office refutes media reports that the men had been 'abducted' and taken to Thailand to be sold as 'slaves'.
In the first group of the 53 people, 38 claimed they were Bangladeshi nationals, while the others said they were from Myanmar.
"In the second group of 81, all except one, who was from Myanmar, said they were Bangladesh citizens," acting Foreign Secretary said.
BBC news report available on its website said the Bangladeshi nationals who were apparently promised well-paid jobs have been rescued after being abducted and shipped to Thailand to be sold as 'slaves'.
October is the start of a five month so-called "sailing season" when thousands of Rohingya are expected to risk their lives by boarding boats to flee Myanmar, many of them trying to reach Malaysia where there is a large Rohingya community, Thai officials told Bangladesh diplomats.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]