Thailand and Bangladesh to boost security, anti trafficking
Thailand and Bangladesh have agreed to cooperate more closely on security and anti-human trafficking efforts as anti-trafficking campaigners warned that a new wave of boats carrying Rohingya migrants was preparing to set sail from Myanmar as soon as the monsoons end.
The agreement between Bangladesh and Thailand was forged by Bangladesh ambassador Saida Muna Tasneem and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon who oversees security. Aside from making several proposals to increase defense cooperation, Tasneem stressed the need to establish a security forum between the two countries to address transnational crimes including human trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism.
Over the past decade, thousands of migrants from both Bangladesh and Myanmar have embarked on perilous journeys across the Indian Ocean to try and reach Malaysia and Indonesia. Many, but not all, are Rohingya. Others, however, are considered economic migrants.
Many of those attempting the journey pay transnational human trafficking gangs that organize the boats, trafficking routes and bribe local officials. The traffickers frequently end up enslaving the migrants, holding them for ransom or selling them into slavery. Some boats never reach Malaysia or Indonesia, and the gangs traffic the migrants into and through Thailand.
In May, Thai police uncovered migrant prison camps and dozens of graves of trafficking victims near the border with Malaysia. A few weeks later, Malaysian authorities found camps and graves on their side of the border. Since then, the Thai police have obtained arrest warrants for over 200 people involved in the trafficking network, including army and police officers and local politicians. Over 100 have already been arrested while the rest are on the run.
The Thai government has also been implementing a wide range of measures and reforms to try and put an end to trafficking and provide better protection and rehabilitation for victims.
Shortly after the discovery of the camps, Thailand organized a regional meeting to try and find solutions to the migrant and trafficking crisis. At the time, an estimated 7,000 migrants were stranded on boats on the Andaman Sea, abandoned by traffickers fleeing the crackdown.
While several countries agreed to accept some of the migrants or offer them humanitarian assistance, addressing the root causes of the crisis proved problematic.
The wave of migrants subsided during the monsoon season because of storms that made the journey by sea too dangerous. The monsoon season is now winding down.
Chris Lewa, of the Rohingya advocacy group, The Arakan Project, told Phuketwan, a newspaper in southern Thailand which has reported extensively on trafficking, that she had received information that boats were expected to begin loading passengers over the next few days in Myanmar. The paper also cited an unnamed source with similar information.
Phuketwan wrote that Bangladesh has been largely successful in breaking up the trafficking gangs operating within its borders. But progress has been slower in Myanmar where the situation is complicated by ethnic, racial and political enmities.
For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visit www.thaianti-humantraffickingaction.org
Thailand Focus Week of October 19, 2015
Having trouble reading this email? View it on your browser.