Human trafficking has been on the rise anytime, anywhere.

“At nine years old, someone told my mum ‘There are many jobs in Thailand. If you go there, you will get to study as well.’ My mum thus sent me crossing from Myanmar to Thailand. I first went to my uncle’s house where I was taken to another house. I only knew I would have a chance to work while studying. A couple days later, a minivan came to pick me up. Inside, there were two other boys. We were given orange juice one bottle each. After drinking it, I felt so sleepy and dozed off. I woke up and found myself inside another house. I only learned later that it was in Nonthaburi. People there said ‘If you stay here, you’ve got to work. You’ve got to sell flowers at the Khao San Rd.’ I thought to myself that I work, and my mum would earn some money, and I could go to school. I was instead quite happy.

“On my first day selling roses on the Khao San Rd., I held in my hand a sign written in English. I had no idea what was written. But when any tourist came by and read, they helped to buy from me. I sold out all the 50 roses that day. Then I was taken back home by a minder. On the following morning, I had to prepare flowers for sale. I ate only one meal a day, at 3pm. I had to sell flowers from late afternoon until late at night. It was ok if I could sell them all. But if I could not, I would get scolded or hit according to the number of unsold flowers. I started to learn I would get punished if I could not sell all the flowers. I thus wanted to sell them all and would give discount to anyone who showed their interest to buy. Then, I would be hit again for failing to give back money at the full price of the flowers. I started to realize it was not as good as I had thought. I did not go to school. I thought I have been sold off.

“After enduring it about two years, I decided to run for the first time. I was caught by the minder that time and was immediately taken home and smacked violently. They hit me on my head, my chest, and my stomach. I did not want to end up like that again, so I told myself to keep up good work. I was practicing my Thai as well. They thought I had no guts to run away again. After a while, as the minder was taking another boy to another place leaving me alone on Khao San Rd., I decided that it must be today. I have gone inside a Seven Eleven Store, asking the staff ‘Sister, I want to go home in the province. Can I go there by taxi?’. She said, ‘No. you have to get to Mor Chit fist.’ Outside, I ran into the police. He helped hail a taxi to bring me to Mor Chit. I took the bus and arrived at the province the following morning Then, I took a minivan to the market close to my home. I could only remember that my uncle’s house was close to a school. Some people there helped me to ask around until I got to my uncle’s.

“I was so happy seeing my uncle. I thought to myself, now I am safe! I told him about what happened to me and showed him wounds on my body. Then my uncle told me to report the case to the police. Some people told us to contact some foundation for help. After I contacted the foundation and they listened to my account, the staff took me to the police station to report the case. The police worked on the case. A couple of months later, I was taken to stay at a children’s shelter. After a while, the police took me to the house in Nonthaburi. Normally, there were many adults inside. The police managed to arrest some offenders, while others successfully ran away.

“After the offenders were put in the car, I answered to questions as to where I slept, which stick was used to hit me, how I prepared the flowers, etc. I could recount all the things, although I kept fearing those people would retaliate and hurt me. After everything was done, I was taken to the children’s shelter. A couple days later, I was taken to another children’s shelter in another province. I had no idea why I have been taken there. Mum (how the child addressed the staff) said that ‘You are put up here so that the suspects could not hurt you.’ Everyone there looked after me very well. Mum asked, ‘Do you want to go to school?”. I said ‘Yes’. The reason I came to Thailand was I wanted to study. I was enrolled into a school with Thai students. I really liked to study. My favorite subjects were sociology and Thai language. I joined the school’s marching band as well.

“I have gone to the court hearing twice and got to see the offenders, through screen monitor, though. Even that I was terrified, so much so I could not utter a word. The scenes of them abusing me kept haunting me. I had to recount the same stories and answered to the same questions many times. I kept telling myself, the stories I told would benefit me and other children. It would help inform the officials who could arrest the offenders. Eventually, the offenders were sentenced to 12 years. (The Court ordered the offenders to pay compensation but they didn’t have money to pay.) On one hand, it disturbed me since they also had their children. On the other, I felt it was justice and it would prevent other children from the same circumstance like me. Life in the prison should help them to repent.

“After the case was decided, I told the officials that ‘I want to continue living in Thailand’ as many relatives of mine lived here. But they told me ‘We have to first bring you back to Myanmar since you had come here illegally.’ I was brought across the river to Myanmar. Then, my brother helped me to cross back to Thailand. I get to live with my relatives in Thailand and enrolled into the informal education program. I am now in junior high school level. Before, I attended class once a week. But after Covid-19, I shifted to study online. I really loved studying and wanted to become a lawyer. I wanted to bring justice to society and did not want such thing to happen with other children. But as I learned that a non-Thai persons could not work this job, I also looked for other options.

“During the trial, I had so much fear. It took several more years for me to have the guts to tell the story. My late grandfather once said that ‘If we fear, we can die twice. But if we do not fear, we can die only once.’ Grandpa was a boxer. He was like my second father and kept telling me to refrain from bad behavior and to help people in distress. Grandpa taught me boxing and told me ‘Don’t use boxing to abuse the powerless, use it to help other people.’ When I had some fight with my younger brother, Grandpa would tell me ‘You are siblings of the same bloodline. Don’t fight each other.’ He forgave me every time. I always told my younger brother to not trust the persons he does not know. We have no idea who are good people or bad people. I told my brother like how my Grandpa taught me to always lend you hand to help people in distress.”

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#HumansBKKxHRDFxSavetheChildren


Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) is a non-profit organization established to offer legal assistance to migrant workers. It is one of several projects under HRDF which works to combat labour trafficking by offering legal assistance to victims in human trafficking cases, both children and adults, until their cases reach the final verdicts.
For more information about HRDF, please check out https://www.facebook.com/HRDFThailand

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