Fishermen slaves going home after being tricked into human trafficking

Hundreds of men who were sold as slaves are heading back home after being sold as slaves to poach for fish for export.

A Home Coming Years in The Making
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Myat Ko Ko Lay leaves Ambon after being tricked by human traffickers a year ago. (Photo: Achmad Ibrahim, Associated press, September 8, 2015)

Dozens of Burmese men in the bustling port town of Ambon were the latest to go home, some more than a decade after being trafficked onto Thai trawlers as slaves to poach fish for export to the U.S. Grabbing one another’s hands, the men walked together towards buses last week. As they pulled away for the airport, some of those still waiting their turn to go home cheered, throwing their arms in the air.

“I’m sure my parents think I’m dead,” said Tin Lin Tun, 25, who lost contact with his family subsequent to a broker luring him to Thailand five years ago. Instead of working in construction, as promised, he was sold onto a fishing boat and taken to Indonesia. “I’m their only son. They’re going to cry so hard when they see me.”

For many, the return home is bittersweet. Parents’ collapse in tears upon seeing their sons and some men met siblings born after they left. But almost all came back empty-handed, struggle to find jobs, and feel they are yet another burden to their poor families. At least one crowd-sourcing site, set up by Anti-Slavery International, hopes to affect their progress.

Those stuck on Thai fishing boats and others who had escaped into the jungle — were the first to go home when rescues led by the Indonesian government began in early April. Since then, hundreds more have been identified and repatriated from neighboring islands. Many of those leaving recently from Ambon were handed cash payments by company officials but they said the money was a fraction of what they were owed.

“We’ve never seen a rescue on this scale before,” said Lisa Rende Taylor, an anti-trafficking expert formerly with the U.N. who now heads the anti-slavery nonprofit Project Issara. “They deserve compensation and justice.”

AP shows the rotten side of the fish business

Last year, the Associated Press tracked fish — caught by men who were savagely beaten and caged — from a slave island in eastern Indonesia to the supply chains of some of America’s biggest food sellers, such as Wal-Mart, Sysco and Kroger, and popular brands of canned pet food like Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams. It can also be used as calamari at fine restaurants, as imitation crab in a sushi roll or as packages of frozen snapper relabeled with store brands that land on our dinner tables.

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Former slave Kyaw Naing held in his rusted cell as he awaits to return home. (Photo: Associated press, November 27, 2014)

A year-long investigation led the AP to the island village of Benjina, part of Indonesia’s Maluku chain about four hundred miles north of Australia. There, workers who were considered runaway risks, were padlocked behind the rusty bars of a cage.

The largest impact, by far, has been the rescue of some of the most desperate and isolated people in the world. More than two thousand men from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos have been identified or repatriated since the AP’s initial story ran, according to the International Organization for Migration and foreign ministries. The tally includes eight fishermen trafficked aboard a Thai cargo ship seized in neighboring Papua New Guinea.

Scarred for life

Tun Lin, who returned to Myanmar last week, held up his right hand: a stump with just a thumb.

He said one finger was ripped off while he tried to wrangle an unwieldy net on the deck of his boat, and the other three were crushed beyond saving. He was taken by refrigerated cargo delivery ship to Thailand, where the remaining digits were surgically removed. Four days later, he said, he was put back on a ship bound for Indonesia, where he fished for the next three years.

“There were some good captains, but there were a lot of bad ones,” the 33-year-old fisherman said, his eyes filling with tears as he described how “boat leaders” were assigned to act as enforcers, beating up fishermen who weren’t working fast enough. “When we asked for our money, they’d say they didn’t have it … but then they’d go to nightclubs, brothels, and bars, drinking expensive alcohol.”

An AP survey of almost four hundred men underscores the horrific conditions fishing slaves faced. Many described being whipped with stingray tails, deprived of food and water, and forced to work for years in the absence of pay. More than 20 percent said they were beaten, 30 percent said they saw someone else beaten, and 12 percent said they saw a person die.

Maung Soe

Maung Soe holds a copy of his forged seafarer’s book. (Photo: Associated Press, November 27, 2014)

“My colleague, Chit Oo, fell from the boat into the water,” wrote Ye Aung, 32, of Myanmar. “The captain said there was no need to search, he will float by himself later.”

Another man, 18-year-old Than Min Oo, said he was not paid and wrote simply: “Please help me.”

A study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine earlier this year, based on interviews with over one thousand trafficking survivors from different industries, found half of those returning from slavery at sea suffered from depression and around 40 percent from post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety. Those men were not connected to the Benjina cases.

And those returnee figures don’t tell the whole story: Hundreds more have been quietly sent home by their companies, avoiding human trafficking allegations.

How to change the possibility of future slaves

Many experts believe the most effective pressure for change can come from consumers, whose hunger for cheap seafood is helping fuel the massive labor abuses. Southeast Asia’s fishing industry is dominated by Thailand, which earns $7 billion annually in exports. The business relies on tens of thousands of poor migrant laborers, mainly from neighboring Southeast Asian countries. They’re often tricked, sold, or kidnapped and put onto boats that are commonly sent to distant foreign waters to poach fish.

Florida based South Pacific Specialties, which distributes to supermarket chains, restaurants, and food groups, received a shipping container loaded with frozen tuna from Mabiru in February. Managing partner Francisco Pinto told the AP his company had once rented out Mabiru’s facilities in Ambon, bought tuna from private artisanal fishermen, and hired its own workers for filleting and processing fish. Pinto said he has spent the past six weeks in Indonesia meeting and observing fish suppliers because American customers are increasingly demanding fair treatment for workers.

In the past month, three separate class-action lawsuits have been filed naming Mars Inc., IAMS Co., Proctor & Gamble, Nestle USA Inc., Nestle Purina Pet Care Co. and Costco, accusing them of having seafood supply chains tainted with slave labor. Ashley Klann, who happens to be a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based law firm behind several of the cases, said the litigation “came as a result of AP’s reporting.”

Regardless of the increased global attention, hundreds of thousands of men still are forced to work in the seafood industry. However, new laws have been introduced and the Obama administration is pushing exporters to clean up their labor practices. U.S. companies taking steps in order to prevent it.

“Slavery in Southeast Asia’s fishing industry is a real-life horror story,” said N.J. Rep. Chris Smith, who is currently among those sponsoring new legislation. “It’s no longer acceptable for companies to deny responsibility … not when people are kept in cages, not when people are made to work like animals for decades to pad some company’s bottom line.”

AP writer Robin McDowell contributed to this report from Yangon, Myanmar, and AP National Writer Martha Mendoza contributed from Washington, D.C., and California. Mason reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Austin Program Takes Kids ‘By The Hand’

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In a community that is filled with violence and crime, parents often worry about the safety of their children. With most after school programs being cut in public schools, there aren’t many choices for children to go for recreation and tutoring. One Austin non-for-profit vowed to change that and bring those activities back.
By The Hand is an after school program that helps inner city kids prosper in education while learning about God. The newly built facility located at 415 N. Laramie brings a sense of freshness to the community as it neighbors two liquor stores. In a recent interview with volunteer coordinator Darrell Gordon, 32, and team leader Akeeysha Rodgers-Williams, 40, they said their purpose is to help the kids succeed all the while building their faith and self-worth.

Twins Ask The White Sox ‘ Would You Like A Dustpan For That Sweep?’

 

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Photo: Google

 

After their second game was postponed Wednesday due to rain, the White Sox set out to beat the Minnesota Twins after a 7-2 loss Tuesday. The Sox’s starting pitcher Derek Holland took on Twins Phil Hughes in an effort to break their four-game losing streak. It seems as if after their World Series win in 2005, they’ve had a hard time getting back to becoming the champions they once were.

 

News Before The Game:

Theo Epstein shot down the idea of the Cubs and White Sox becoming trade partners. But with what’s been happening so far in the season involving both teams, it may not seem like such a bad idea. Maybe he’ll reconsider.

Pre-Game:

Inning 1

Let’s get ready for some baseball.

Inning 2

The first inning was difficult to watch. Two home runs left a sour taste in the mouth of the White Sox and that taste stuck with them into the second.

Inning 3

With a number of home runs within the first two innings, the Twins made the game as one-sided as a 2D drawing.

Inning 4 

The White Sox are finally on the board after three innings of a 6-0 score. It’s starting to look like a ball game again.

Inning 5

The White Sox are beginning to pick up the pace with some base hits and a home run to shorten the score gap 7-5.

https://twitter.com/Cubsfarmwatch/status/862850334439460865

Inning 6

A close game is more entertaining than what we’ve seen in the first four innings. The White Sox have switched out Holland for Anthony Swarzak, pitching against Tyler Duffey.

Inning 7

With each remaining inning, it became more apparent that the Twins battery life is at 30 percent as the White Sox are fully charged.

 

Inning 8

The White Sox are trying hard break their losing streak. Momentum now even between the two teams with the difference maker of one-point.

Inning 9

If you took a bottle of soda and shake it for an hour it still wouldn’t match the amount of pressure these two teams are having as we’re in the final inning with one-point still between them.

Post-Game

In a post-game conference, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that he was proud of the way his guys fought through the game, even though people thought it was over in the fourth. Wrong size gloves and dropped balls he said contributed to tonight’s loss but is still happy with their effort.

“Despite the loss, I’m very proud of the way they continued to play and them service well moving forward because there’s still a lot of baseball left,” said Renteria.

He goes on to defend his choice to use David Robertson early in the game as it helped the team’s comeback. Holland felt that the loss was on him because he didn’t do enough in the game.

“I did what I needed to do to get back into the groove, but it just wasn’t quite good enough. When you don’t execute your pitches the way you should, it’s going to make this a lot harder for those guys to come back,” he said.

The White Sox now lost a total of five straight games. They prepare to play the San Diego Padres tomorrow.

 

Neighbors Of The Austin Neighborhood Share Thoughts On Pink And White House

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When residents of the Austin community walk around the 500 block of north Central Ave., they’re greeted with two-story tall houses and various apartment complexes. On the corner of the block stands a house that is painted front to back in pink and white. The house, with its chipped paint, failing columns, and ripped black carpet on the front porch is covered in pink and white including the fence and garage.

Austin resident Sandra Owens, 54, recalls the first time when she saw the house and thought there had to be a catch to the color scheme.

“When I looked at this house I think that’s a man who really loves his wife in order to live in a whole pink house,” said Owens

She and her sister, Mel Owens, rarely got a glimpse of the people who lived in the house and said they would like to see the inside but don’t want to impose for a tour.  

“I’ve seen the man who lives there once. It looks nice, but I don’t want to go and do a cold knock on the door. If I see them I may say hi,” said Mel.

Just like the sisters, residents are more familiar with the house than the people. The curiosity of the 2,574 square foot home still lives within the community as to why the owners painted the house that color.

Some residents tried to convince them to change the color. Neighbor Paul Harris, 49, who lived next to them for 17 years said the reason it stayed the same was because of the owner’s wife.

“That was his wife’s favorite colors, pink and white, always pink and white. You couldn’t get him to change the color. I’ve tried,” said Harris.

He also mentions that the house is a sight to see on the inside and to not be fooled by the looks on the outside.

“When I first saw the house it looked like an Easter basket, but the house on the inside is gorgeous. It still has some of the classic work on the inside. When I say it’s gorgeous, it’s gorgeous.”

Brief History

The old Victorian house was built in 1894. The house was intended to be a bed and breakfast before it was purchased in 1986 by the family. During that time the house was boarded up and its original colors were green and white before it was remodeled. The house had two fires since it was built with the first in 1992 and another in 2005.

To this day the house still contains classic features including a secret room in the dome, laundry shoot and a service room where there is a bedroom outside the kitchen. In the front hall, the beam in the entry way has a collage of pictures of family members.

With the house having such history it wasn’t featured in any local newspapers or other mediums. It was, however, featured on the westcooknews.com website as one of the 722 Austin properties that were to be auctioned because of property tax. But the amount owed according to the site was only $139.77 and was later resolved by the family.

The Residents

Rev. Isiah Anderson (Photo: Yolanda Anderson)

Owners Rev. Isiah Anderson, 84, his wife Wilhelmina Anderson, 85, and his daughter Yolanda Anderson, 45, later moved into the house in 1989. Yolanda says that people assumed that no one lived there because they were a quiet family who didn’t do the usual outdoor activities.

“We weren’t outside as much, but those who lived in the neighborhood knew my father. He was always outside doing busy work, building something, or just talking or counseling people,” she said.

Harris said the neighbors knew him by the nickname, Rev. and he was friendly with everyone he interacted with.

“He was a nice man too. I would interact with him every time I would see him. He was a community organizer, moral, and a hey how’re you doing type of guy every day when I see him. He was also a contractor. He would let me borrow his ladder and would show me how to fix things around his house.”

On the Saturday before Easter, his wife and daughter were bringing Anderson back from the hospital. They were planning to have family over for the holiday so everyone can spend time with him. Unfortunately, that would become the last the family celebration with him.

Rev. Anderson died at the age of 84 Easter Sunday. Harris says that an ambulance would regularly visit the house.

“That was a regular thing. He was an elderly man so they would be there to check on his health,” Harris said with a shocked look after hearing about Anderson’s passing.

Rumors Surrounding the House

The house recently surfaced on social media in a recent Facebook post where there were a lot of speculation as to if anyone still lived there. Yolanda heard the rumors and thought they were pretty funny.

“I remember hearing about those rumors. There was this assumption that his wife passed away or no one lived there. But that was probably because we would usually come from the back because it’s closest to the car, but the neighbors knew us and everything like that,” she said.

Other rumors include the house being haunted and that the door was left open and anyone can walk in. The rumors also made Sandra laugh as her interpretation of the place were different.

“I’ve never heard any of those rumors, but this place seems more like a happy place than a sad place. I mean I wouldn’t like it to stay pink,” said Owens.

What Does The House Mean To The Community?

Residents of the community look at the house as a symbol of history in the neighborhood. Aaron Doyle, 28, also wondered what it looked like on the inside.  He agrees, however, the house is a landmark on the city’s West Side.

“What makes it a landmark to everybody is that it’s been there forever and everyone knows the house when they see it. No one talked about the people only the color of the house,” said Doyle.

Others think that the history of the house adds value to the area. Roy Ward, 63, admits he doesn’t know much about the house’s history but thinks it can use a little remodeling as he points out the flaws including a failing beam and leaning upper deck.

“A house like that has a significant value and I would like to see it stay around. It can just be rehabbed because it doesn’t look like any work as been done on it in a while,” said Ward.

The common point made by the residents and neighbors was their dislike of the color, but it’s been around for so many years they’ve learned to accept it.

Since the passing of Rev. Isiah Anderson, his wife and daughter are currently debating the future of the house as they see it as a big responsibility.

“It’s a lot of work. You have to get the repairs to keep it up to date. But we’ve been here for over 20 years so that’s the thing we’re currently talking about, me and my mother,” said Yolanda.

She promises to keep us posted on what’s next for the house. The family has set up a GoFundMe page for those who want to donate and show their respects to Rev. Anderson. If you want to donate, the link is provided below.

https://www.gofundme.com/the-legacy-of-rev-isiah-anderson

The Wizards Fight To Get A Win Against The Celtics

Tonight was one of the most physical games in the Eastern Conference semifinals as the Celtics lost Game 3 against the Wizards. Coming in with a 2-0 lead in the series, the Celtics strived to dominate Bradley Beal and John Wall in Game 3. They wanted to go in and keep the streak but the Wizards had a trick up their sleeve and his name is Wall.

First Quarter

 

Second Quarter

This is no longer basketball, but a brawl waiting to happen following two close calls. The highlight of the night took place during this quarter as Kelly Oubre and Kelly Olynyk got physical following a floppy pick, showing how intense the series between the two teams has become.

Third Quarter

This quarter belonged to Marcin Gortat, as he made sure that every shot and layup made its way into the hole. Wall became the flash as he drove past the Celtics, either scoring points or getting goal-tending calls in his favor. Honorable mention to Markieff Morris, who scored off a clean alley hoop.

Fourth Quarter

The heat was back on when Terry Rozier and Brandon Jennings had their share of physical interaction during the beginning of the fourth. Both of them were ejected from the game. The momentum died during the quarter as the teams appeared to be both physically and emotionally drained.

With the Wizards on the board with the series now 2-1, will they hold onto that drive going into Game 4 on Sunday? Until then, there’s no word if Oubre will receive a one-game suspension following his actions tonight. The Celtics will have to come up with a demolition plan to break Wall down.

Homerun By Schwarber Reminds Us Why They’re The Champs

In yesterday’s game against the Cardinals, Schwarber gave the team a case of deja vu of the World Series as his comeback seventh inning home run led the Cubs to victory 6-4.

While watching the game in the local barber shop with the Cardinals leading 4-1 for the majority of the game I thought the game was pretty much over. That thought was based on the first game they played against each other in the season opener on April 2. Maybe it was the flashback of the team losing that came to the forefront of my thoughts but still believed that they could pull it off somehow. Nonetheless, up to the plate comes Schwarber who hits it out of the park reviving the love for the team.

According to bleedcubbieblue.com, this was the first home run from the left-fielder since 2015. Since last season, Schwarber was waiting for his chance to get back on the field and remind everyone of who he is. He missed most of the 2016 season following a knee injury and he was out for surgery.

This season there’s a feeling that he will be a big part of the team’s chances of a repeat championship.

‘Power Rangers’ Provides The Origin Fans Deserve And Hints At Sequel

 

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The teens discover the red power coin in an abandoned area. (Credit: Google)

 

Spoilers, but not too many.

In the original television series, as some may remember, there wasn’t much back story behind who the ranger’s leader Zordon was and his relationship with their enemy Rita Repulsa. In order to further explain this, they film had to change the television’s origin to answer these questions.

In the opening of the film, the rangers are on a planet that is being destroyed. The red ranger is crawling towards the yellow ranger who then hands him her power coin. As the red ranger collects the rest of the team’s coins, a green ranger carrying a staff walks towards him. It comes to be Zordon who served as the original red ranger and Rita was the green ranger who wanted more power and betrayed her team. Now with the origin of the two, this will set up the sequel based on what they’re fighting for, the ZEO crystals.

In you’re a fan of the television series then you’ll know that the ZEO crystals lead to an extension of the franchise “Power Rangers ZEO”. The series also follows the original mighty morphing series as other teens took over as rangers. The crystals, however, don’t mean we’re going to skip over the rest of the originals.

In the post credit scene, as all the rangers are back in the detention classroom, the teacher calls for the news student Tommy Oliver, who is known as the evil green ranger in the show. With these two setups, a sequel is promised for the near future.

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The film offers enough dialogue and action to unite fans young and old as soon as the teens morph into their suits. the film could have been better if they stuck to casting actors for the roles as the show did such as RJ Cyler as Zack instead of Billy but he stands out as the scientific nerd who was put into detention for blowing up his lunch box.

Nonetheless, a fun ride that will have people looking back at the old show to get more of what could be next in future films. The origin is better instead of Rita being freed from a capsule and is sending clay-made monsters to fight. It’s a film that moviegoers must Go Go see.

Power Rangers

4 stars

Runtime: 2h 4m

Pg-13