For the past year, The Associated Press has investigated slave labor in Thailand’s $7 billion seafood export industry, resulting in the freeing of more than 2,000 fishermen.
This week, the AP came out with another investigation looking at slavery in shrimp processing sheds in Thailand. This is the story of one of those victims:
Kyaw Naing just wanted to stop fishing. As a slave stuck on a Thai trawler in Indonesian waters for three years, he had been forced to work shifts of 20 or more hours, seven days a week. Every day he wrangled the monstrous nets filled with mackerel, black tiger shrimp and other species, in exchange for a few handfuls of rice and the parts of fish deemed undesirable for the lucrative seafood export business to the United States and elsewhere. If he was lucky, he was also paid $100 a month. If not, he was whipped with the biting, toxic tail of a stingray.
An agent had coaxed him to leave his impoverished village in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta by promising a good job across the border in Thailand. He was taken to the gritty port of Samut Sakhon and put on a boat bound for a small, remote Indonesian island village called Benjina.