They arrived in Myawady, opposite Thailand’s western province of Tak, on the morning of August 4.
Of the total, 12 are from Bago Region, one from Ayeyawady Region, one from Taninthayi Region, two from Kayin State, and two from Mon State.
Saw Win Tin, 55, a resident of Taunggu District, Bago Region, said that he was sold to a fishing boat where he worked for over three years without pay.
“While selling crabs in Kawthaung, a person approached me and offered me a job with good salary. I agreed and I was transferred to a fishing boat,” Saw Win Tin said. “I was sold and I didn’t get any pay for over three years.”
He managed to escape, when the boat docked. With assistance from a Thai student, he fled to a camp on the Thai side of the border and stayed there for a year.
“I’m glad that I finally reached Myawady,” he said.
Another returnee, who asked not to be named, said that many men were sold to fishing boats in Thailand, while on the way to work at an oil palm plantation in Kawthaung, located in the South of Myanmar, in an area known as Victoria Point during British rule.
“I went there to work for the company,” said the man from Paungde. “When I got there, I realised that it was not what I thought it would. The working and living conditions were poor so I left. Then, an agent offered me a job, but instead sold me to a fishing boat. There are many people like me,” he said.
The man plans to sue the agent to bring an end to the criminal activity.
The returnees were taken to Mawlamyaing Youth Training Centre, under the care of Wah Wah Myint, staff officer of Social Welfare Department. They will be returned to their hometowns.