To Zhou Wen Hua, the life of an illegal Chinese immigrant in Cambodia is the same as a duck being fattened for the slaughter.
“They made up this word because we live like ducks in a cage. The boss can freely hit or kill us. He can do what he wants with us,” the 34-year-old woman said. “The boss told us it costs only $200 to have someone killed in Cambodia.”
With the threat of beatings, rape and even murder, Zhou Wen Hua said she was happy last week when police raided the house where she and 25 other illegal Chinese immigrants were waiting for travel documents to the West.
“Before they came we were already preparing to escape to the [Chinese] embassy. We were like hostages,” she said.
Zhou Wen Hua was one of three immigrants who on Tuesday recounted their experiences at the hands of those who have run a human smuggling network in Cambodia. The three—Zhou Wen Hua, 22-year-old Chen Ping Yong and 27-year-old Sang Zhi Qi—were interviewed at a large Prampi Makara district villa turned into a detention center.
According to the three, gangsters—known as “bosses” in mainland China—organized their route to Cambodia on the pretext they could organize passports and travel routes to get them to European countries. But what awaited the illegal immigrants when they arrived in Cambodia was very different from what they had been promised, they said.
“He said I would go to Czechoslovakia then to Italy. The boss said I just had to give him four photographs and I would get a new passport,” said Zhou Wen Hua.
Instead, she said, she and others were told to pay a Chinese boss in Cambodia more than $2,000 each to ensure their safety, or face possible torture.
“The boss told us to telephone home and tell our families to send money or the boss would cut off our fingers and torture us. I telephoned but I don’t know if my family sent money,” said Zhou Wen Hua.