Indonesian authorities on Wednesday rescued 17 Cambodian migrants enslaved aboard two Thai vessels illegally fishing the archipelago nation’s waters, according to a statement issued by Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
The ministry’s spokesman, Koy Kuong, said the men told a now-familiar story of deception to Indonesian authorities about how they ended up on the boats.
“They were undocumented workers in Thailand and paid a broker to arrange construction jobs, but he took the men drinking and they all blacked out. When they awoke, they were at sea,” Mr. Kuong said.
“It is very lucky that our Cambodian fishermen were found by Indonesian authorities, because they have been forced to work very hard by their Thai captors,” he said.
Undocumented Cambodians have proven to be highly vulnerable to exploitative brokers in Thailand who sell migrants into bondage to work aboard thousands of illegal Thai fishing boats.
In the same Indonesian waters in November, another 20 Cambodian men were freed. Human rights groups say untold numbers remain in servitude.