Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Relief, tales of abuse as fishermen return

Relief, tales of abuse as fishermen return

Relief, tales of abuse as fishermen return

A group of five fishermen who had endured more than a year in forced labour on a Thai fishing vessel returned to an emotional reunion with their families in Phnom Penh last night.

In a scene that has become all too familiar over the past year, a group of five fishermen who had endured more than a year in forced labour on a Thai fishing vessel returned to an emotional reunion with their families in Phnom Penh last night.

The men flew into the capital’s international airport from Indonesia, where the boat they worked on was found illegally fishing.

Sim Yeng, 32, from Kandal province, said he had gone to Thailand believing that a broker in his village had found him work at a high salary for one year.

Instead, he ended up working for nothing on a fishing boat.

“It was a very difficult job on the boat. They gave us no time to rest, even though we worked day and night,” Yeng said.

“I did not get a salary, so I decided to escape. I came back home to see my family.”

Not knowing Yeng’s whereabouts had caused his family much anxiety, said his sister Sim Ngim, who greeted him at the airport. “I missed my brother so much. My family worried about him so much because he was not safe abroad – but now he’s home.”

Rouen Nam, 24, from Siem Reap province, said that once aboard the fishing vessel, he had been treated as a slave.

“They beat us if we could not complete the work they wanted . . . I swore never to go back for a job abroad. It is my life,” Nam said.

The men are the most recent group of slave labourers to be repatriated after 13 fishermen were rescued from South Africa earlier this month and in July.

“They were mistreated by a boat owner for more than a year and a month in South Africa,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Kuy Kong said in a statement.

Lim Mony, from the rights group Adhoc, said Cambodian fishermen continued to be lured by brokers to work in Thailand and other countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa.

According to the Ministry of Interior, 12,000 Cambodian workers were repatriated from abroad in 2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all