Govt should have been aware of miseries of inhuman trafficking15 May 2015 Editorial Desk
Hundreds of poor Bangladeshi nationals dubbed as 'drowning people' in East Asia sea bundled with Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, speaks out the human tragedy of modern day slavery. The magnitude of the tragedy has stunned the nation when news broke out about the recovery of scores of bodies of Bangladeshi people from mass graves along with decomposed bodies of Rohingyas in Thai jungle. Bangladeshis in thousands have been suffering from such widespread inhuman miseries and deaths at the hands of human traffickers for a long time and it is unbelievable that the agencies of the government had no knowledge of it. Meanwhile, people also died in the sea without food and drinking water and they were just thrown out in the sea. It was hardly anticipated that local and regional human traffickers would take our nationals so much unguarded to fall into unprecedented traps as it was silently developing over the years. The traffickers found no difficulty in developing the coastal trade and flourish it when the authorities concerned were visibly unmoved by the growing scale of the trafficking. Many wonder what the high profile advisers surrounding the government had done to alert the highest authorities. It seemed they remained busy how to keep the government in power without caring the need of showing competence to improve governance. The UN report said over 1.5 lakh people from Bangladesh and Myanmar were handled by human traffickers annually in the past few years and number of deaths in the sea and jungle could have been easily foreseen. It is heart-breaking that our nationals are dying in the sea and in Thai forest when our government apparently had nothing to do. Photo footages show body bags and skeleton of survivors returning from the sea only to give shame on us as a nation failing to save our poor people from being exploited. Human trafficking is an international crime against humanity and not only the failure of Bangladesh government, the silence of the Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia governments is equally to be condemned. Reports of jungle camp in Thai border closer to Malaysia appeared many times in the local media headlines. But nobody cared including our embassies in those countries. It is so unfortunate for free country that the public servant have not become public servants to be aware of their duties to the people. But the trade continued reportedly because of the involvement of Thai local politicians, government functionaries and local agents who protected the billion-dollar trade until it made global headlines. Similar gangs are operating in Bangladesh as part of the regional network and it is advisable that the government must immediately identify the leaders and punish them. However there is no such visible activities. Because such activities have to be visible to attract international cooperation. Meanwhile, the tragedy has not only brought to light the economic plight of the poor to the global community, it has also caused enormous loss of image of Bangladesh as an irresponsible nation. We are appearing to be too selfish and unkind that we are only happy with foreign remittances. Many believe that human trafficking for migrant workers may have developed as sending workers to Malaysia under government to government arrangement totally failed for procedural flaws, and harassment and such other irregularities on our side. Traffickers on the other hand lured the poor aspirants to send them to Malaysia at a nominal cost of Tk 20,000 and people were easily misled by it. The traffickers collected them from Bangladesh where large number of homeless Rohingyas also live and embarked them in sea going boats from Cox's Bazar and Teknaf beaches. They ferried them across Myanmar coast to Thailand jungles to pass them to Malaysia. They were held in jungle camps and left them in boats on sea without food as they failed to pay extra money the traffickers demanded. As per United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office over 25,000 people departed Bangladesh and Myanmar via the Bay of Bengal to Southeast Asia since October last year. Some managed to land on the shore but over 8,000 were still afloat in the Malaccan Strait as the smugglers abandoned them fearing arrest by Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian police who are now running man hunt to break the gangs.