Friday, May 29, 2015
Southeast Asia: Home to Ethnic Cleansing, Slavery, and Hazardous Work
By: Walden Bello, teleSUR, May 28, 2015
In the late 20th century, Southeast Asia was seen a region of “tiger economies” that were the envy of the world. That narrative has vanished. Today, the area is regarded by many as a site of ethnic cleansing, great inequality, and super-exploited labor.
The sorry state of human and labor rights in the region was driven home by three events that captured the world’s attention in the last three months.
Dominating the news was the appalling situation of several thousand Rohingyas fleeing violent persecution in Myanmar or Burma. Hiring smugglers to carry them to safety by sea, the Rohingyas found themselves floating in the high seas, unable to land as neighboring states refused to accept them.
As if the plight of the Rohingyas were not shocking enough, an island in Indonesia was revealed to have illegal fish factories operated with Burmese and Thai forced labor. Relatives of many those kept captive on the island of Benjina had given up hope that they would ever be found. The nightmare turned out to be merely the tip of a multimillion dollar industry built on the backs of slaves with the complicity of Thai and Indonesian authorities.