Hong Kong Resident Trafficked From Thailand to Myanmar Pleads for Help

On Wednesday, Hong Kong anti-trafficking activists and human rights lawyers played a shocking recording of a man testifying to the horrors he suffered after being kidnapped and forced to work for online scam syndicates in Myanmar.

Unfortunately, online “boiler room” scams are common throughout Southeast Asia. However, more reports and details about people being trafficked to work for these networks have emerged in recent months.

Victims revealed that they had been tricked into traveling to Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos under romance or high-paying job promises. However, they were later kidnapped and forced to work.

In the recording played by the activists, a 30-year-old man identified as John said he had been trapped in Myanmar for at least three months. During that period, he was forced into scams by armed individuals, he said, adding that people were assaulted and even shot if they did not meet revenue quotas or tried to escape.

John revealed that he had been kidnapped and taken to Myanmar, where his passport was confiscated, after he traveled to Thailand for a vacation at a friend’s invitation.

The testimony was shared by local Hong Kong advocacy group Stop Trafficking of People and human rights lawyer Patricia Ho.

According to the Hong Kong government, at least 39 boiler room scam victims have asked for help since January. Reports also state that 21 people remain in captivity in Myanmar and Cambodia.

At least 18 people were confirmed safe. However, John said that the Hong Kong task force had contacted him but stated that the situation should be left to the Chinese government because it was “beyond their control.”

Meanwhile, the victims’ relatives in Hong Kong have turned to the media and political groups to ask for help and voice their grievances.

According to Stop Trafficking of People program director Michelle Wong, trafficking networks in Southeast Asia are now targeting younger, more educated ethnic Chinese.

While speaking to reporters, the activist urged the government to expose that pattern to the Hong Kong public to prevent further cases.

Human rights lawyer Patricia Ho also called on authorities to work on a law against human trafficking and forced labor that allows police and prosecutors to do their jobs.