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Cries in the Woods

May 14, 2015

No one would have believed what happened to those poor fortune seekers from Asia’s two poor countries—and poorly governed countries— if the discovery of their final resting places had not been the news in international media. The jungles straddling along the Thai-Malaysia border are dotted with mass graves of migrant Bangladeshis and Rohingyas .

Transnational trafficking-rackets lured them to find better jobs in Malaysia and trapped them in the ghettos without any amenities. They inflicted torture on them to extract ransom. One could hardly hold in his tears after reading those medieval sufferings these poor chaps endured. Dead were the ones who could not bear the ordeal. Dead were their dreams of living in a distant land free of hunger, abuse and humiliation. When they were alive, their cries did not make it to the ears of those who could really make a difference in the blink of an eye. Their cries echoed in the woods in vain, they wondered what sins they had committed for which they were paying such a terrible price.

No one will bother, how poorly we govern our country, how accountable our representatives are, how miserably Bangladeshis live in this country, how corrupt we are, how amoral and unethical we are unless their fallout affects others. God will not be quiet if his peace is disturbed. If others’ yards are troubled because of my negligence, they will react.

The news has made a huge dent in incumbent govt’s reputation. It is unbelievable that this huge number of people were smuggled while keeping the govt in the dark. There is no denying to the fact that smuggling of narcotics, gold and human has increased many folds since the govt came to power.

In a BBC-organized talk show, a senior minister of the ruling party informed that govt is taking stern actions against the traffickers[1]. So far, it seems govt is keen to find the solutions through extra-judicial means. The means could not lead us to the last end of this vast network of traffickers. While pawns at the grassroots meet death at the hands of law-enforcing agencies, the godfathers remain untouchables. Who are the people who filled their coffers from this slave trade? What are their political identities?

The role of Bangladeshi media in covering this heart-rendering event is really disappointing. Except the leading media house, others did not send any boots on the grounds of Thai-Malaysian jungles to cover the story[2]. As Bangladeshi nationals are involved in this incident, this should be paramount importance to Bangladeshis. Up-to-the-minute accounts of this human-trafficking tragedy is notably absent in the electronic media.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recently published a report. The report says”in the first quarter of 2015, 25000 people are estimated to have departed in irregular maritime movements from the Bay of Bengal.” Moreover, the report says many female immigrants were abused and some complained that they had been abducted and boarded on the fishing trawlers[3].

The perilous plight of these modern-day Vikings evokes the scenes of Spielberg’s ‘Amistad’ in one’s mind. The wooden-ships in the film were packed with slaves who were treated like sub-humans and kept in inhumane conditions inside the hull.

This clandestine activity has been going on for the last couple of years. But, it caught world’s attention last year when the fate of a group of illegal immigrants hailed from Narsinghdi  was reported on a local online news site[4].

Thai Police have detained a local mayor, Police officer, local government officials in connection with trafficking. But, the web is stretched far and wide,as I have mentioned earlier, and nationals of many Southeast Asian countries are involved in this clandestine trade.

As Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian authorities made forays into the jungles, traffickers abandoned their consignments crammed with starving and exhausted migrant workers in the middle of the sea.None wants these unwanted guests. Their boats are floating aimlessly off the coasts of Thailand and Malaysia.

It has become a chronic problem and soon will affect others if it is not addressed immediately. Turning a blind eye to this tragedy will only unfold a bigger catastrophe. World simply cannot sit idle when a careless govt took an indifferent stance to a problem of this magnitude. May god help these thin skins to understand the gravity of the problem[5].

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Notes:

[1]. Mentioning the killing of three human traffickers in a ‘gun-battle’ with Police in Teknaf, Minister for Agriculture Begum Matia Chowdhury said,”Why did encounter take place if govt is not concerned about the matter? Were those three men killed for no reason? They died in encounter while tracking human.”

[2]. The Daily Star and Daily Prothom Alo sent special correspondents to Thailand and Malaysia to cover the story.

[3]. The report also says more than 5,400 illegal immigrants are being detained at various detention centers in the countries of Asia Pacific region.

[4]. Online news portal banglanews24.com ran the report a year ago. See the link on my post.

[5]. Govt decided to revamp its existing laws to prevent human-trafficking and in a latest move drafted a new action plan.

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