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Tourists also targeted in Southeast Asian human trafficking operations: former Hong Kong district councilor

Tourists also targeted in Southeast Asian human trafficking operations: former Hong Kong district councilor thumbnail

Hong Kong tourists traveling in Thailand have also become targets of a widespread network of human trafficking operations in Southeast Asia, according to a former Hong Kong district councilor who says he is currently assisting the families of some of the traffickers’ alleged victims. 

It was earlier reported that the traffickers used online job scams to lure victims to Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos with promises of lucrative employment opportunities, only for them to be detained and forced to engage in illegal work. Some were also victims of romance scams. 

Some reports said such victims have been tortured, sexually assaulted and threatened with organ harvesting.  

Former district councilor Andy Yu said on a program on Commercial Radio on Tuesday that he had gotten in touch with an alleged victim who clarified that he or she (Yu did not specify their gender) was not held captive after falling prey to a job scam. 

“[The victim] said he took leave from his job in Hong Kong for a trip to Thailand. He had a return ticket,” Yu said. 

“He took a car, which was not a form of public transport, and got kidnapped and sent to Myanmar.” 

The district councilor said the victim wanted to clarify as he saw online that some people mistakenly believed that all of the victims had been greedy and not thinking properly before accepting the fake job offers. 

He added the victim went on holiday alone. 

Yu said the victim has contacted the Hong Kong government via WhatsApp for assistance, but has not gotten a reply. 

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He added the victim hoped the government could be more proactive in contacting him. 

Yu also called on authorities to not communicate with the victims in Chinese and to use English instead as many of the people working for the criminal organizations can read Chinese but not English.  

But Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk told Metro Radio that authorities had not heard of any such cases. 

“All the cases have liaised with the organizations, and they followed the instructions of the organizations who provided the airplane tickets,” he said. 

Cheuk also said that authorities received one more request for assistance related to the human trafficking schemes on Tuesday, bringing the total number of Hong Kong residents who have fallen victim to the scams since the beginning of the year to 38.

According to authorities, a total of 17 have been confirmed to be safe, out of which 12 have returned to Hong Kong. But 21 are still being held captive in Myanmar and Cambodia.

In the past few days, the Hong Kong police have arrested six suspects in the city linked to the scams.

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