13 Villagers Enslaved in Thailand Return Home

Seven families, including three children, returned to Cambodia last week from Thailand, where they were trafficked earlier this year to labor on Thai farms, hu­man rights workers said.

Two men and 11 women and children, all from Kdey Kandal village in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district, said they were brought to Thailand in July and August, lured by promises of about $1.70 per day—none of which was paid.

They returned to Cambodia on Wednesday and Thursday and were taken to the Phnom Penh of­fice of rights group Licadho.

Interviewed at Licadho on Fri­day, the families said they ran away from the Thai farms, and made their way back to Cam­bo­dia on foot and with the help of sympathetic motorists.

The group, which included three girls aged 2, 12 and 14, said they had been sold to work as la-b­or­ers for about $7 each

One of the victims, Yun Phoeun, 39, said she had been duped into leaving her home by a man named Seang Mao, who was still in Thailand.

“Seang Mao told us that he would take us to work on Malai dis­trict farms [in Banteay Mean­chey province], but took us to Thailand,” she said.

She added that she was prom­ised payment for her work but never re­ceived any money.

Yat Barang, 35, said he had been convinced to leave his home village due to poor conditions.

In Thailand, the families la­bored in isolated locations and could not recognize where they were, he said.

Licadho founder Kek Galabru said their lack of education and poor living conditions in Cambo­dia forced the families to seek work elsewhere.

The families were sent back to Kandal province later on Friday, Kek Galabru said.

Licadho women’s rights monitor Chheng Soklay said at least four other trafficking victims from Cambodia are still working at the same farms in Thailand.

Calls made to Thai Embassy officials in Phnom Penh were unsuccessful Sunday.


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