Slave Fishermen Rescued From Indonesian Island
TUAL, Indonesia — The same trawlers that had enslaved countless migrant fishermen for years carried more than 300 of them to freedom Saturday after a dramatic rescue from a remote Indonesian island.
After 17 hours overnight at sea, the men, mostly from Myanmar, filed off the boats and walked to the site of their new temporary home where they were safe.
“I’m so happy, I wanted to go home for so long,” said Aung Aung, 26, who lifted his hair on the left side of his head to show a fat, jagged scar stretching from his lip to the back of his neck — the result of a machete attack by his captain’s son.
The men were among hundreds of migrant workers revealed in an Associated Press investigation to have been lured or tricked into leaving their countries to go to Thailand, where they were put on boats to Indonesia. From there, they were forced to catch seafood that was shipped to Thailand and exported around the world. An Indonesian delegation visited the island village of Benjina on Friday and offered immediate evacuation.
Officials from Myanmar are set to visit the islands this week.