Two men walk towards our interview set. One wears a white, long sleeve button-down shirt with dress pants and shoes. The other sports a solid colored tee with jeans and walks barefoot. Later, a third man donning a grey Washington, DC shirt and camo shorts joins us. At first glance, these three men are such contrasts. In reality, they share much in common; specifically, they are all determined to prevent the abuses happening in Southeast Asia's fishing boats.
On Monday we visited Sompong Srakaew, founder of the Labor Rights Promotion Network and a 2008 TIP Hero. He and two survivors share the following insights about slavery in the high seas.
“A broker can make 300,000 baht (approximately $845) from selling one person.”
“They made me sign a document. I don’t know what it said.”
“They would pour hot water on us.”
“I was in a fishing boat for over six years, but the police were still able to catch my broker and put him in jail.”
“Freedom means goodness. It means take it easy and that there’s no problem and no concerns. It means I can relax.”
“What makes me happy is to help other people who were like me…who went through the same thing.”
“I want to start a group – a fishermen’s union.”
“Big factories are now trying to cooperate to have a good image and for corporate social responsibility.”
“The Thai government runs schools for migrant children which is very good so that they can get an education. At our daycare centers, we teach children about peace.”
“The first thing that people can do to stop this from happening is to understand Thailand – to know why it happens here.”