Thursday, March 31, 2016

"How the AP busted an international seafood slavery racket"

we found ourselves on a wooden ferry heading to Indonesia’s remote island village of Benjina, unreachable part of the year because of stormy seas. There were no roads and little electricity. The only way to get a message to the outside world was to climb a hill and pray for a tiny, flickering phone signal.

There was one business, though — a large fishing company. Six Thai trawlers were docked at port when we arrived, with more than 80 others still at sea. After a few days, we were able to talk to dozens of fisherman, most from Myanmar. The level of desperation was staggering. Some were locked in a cage because they had asked to go home. A jungle-covered company graveyard held the bodies of more than 60 fishermen, most buried under fake names. At night, men would run after us on windy, dusty paths, jamming pieces of paper into our hands with the names and addresses of family back home. "Please," they begged. "Tell them we are alive."