The Horrors of Human Trafficking

International New York Times, May 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Horrors of Human Trafficking


The world must respond to the plight of desperate migrants fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Thousands of migrants fleeing ethnic persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh have taken to the Andaman Sea, west of Thailand and Malaysia, in a desperate search for someone to take them in. Some 8,000 have been abandoned in the last month alone by smugglers who offered passage and a better future. Their plight, coupled with grim tales of abuse emerging from makeshift camps in the jungles of Thailand and Malaysia, paint a horrific picture of a regionwide network of human trafficking.

The roots of the catastrophe lie in the policies of the region's governments, which must now take responsibility for the crisis they have created.

Myanmar is by far the worst offender. Systematic persecution has driven 140,000 Rohingya Muslims from their homes, making them easy prey for traffickers who lure them with promises of safety and jobs in Malaysia, for a price, or simply kidnap them with a view to selling them into slavery or extorting ransom from their families. Myanmar refuses to grant the Rohingya citizenship or other rights. Last week, President Thein Sein signed a new law restricting the right of Rohingya women to have children. The plight of the Rohingya has reached a pre-genocidal stage, according to an alarming report released earlier this month by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. …

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