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Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

'Trafficked HK victim' tells of life-scarring ordeal

A 28-year-old man who flew out of Hong Kong to meet his "online girlfriend" in Thailand said he was smuggled to Myanmar and held for ransom while enduring beatings for a month.
His story, told to Headline Daily, sister publication of The Standard, follows an increasing number of Taiwanese people falling victim to forced labor in Cambodia and other countries and a rise in human-trafficking cases reported by Taiwan and Hong Kong media.

The Hongkonger, known as Tsang, said he was taken to four different places after he was abducted by several unknown people when he landed in Bangkok to meet his online girlfriend for the first time in mid-July.

He said he was imprisoned and beaten for a month before his family paid an unspecified ransom that allowed him to fly back to Hong Kong yesterday.

As of 8pm last night, police said they have not received any report of Tsang's case.

According to Headline Daily advertisements recruiting Hongkongers to work in Thailand for HK$30,000 a month have been circulating in social media.

Tsang said his online girlfriend paid for his plane tickets and promised to take care of his accommodation. But as soon as he landed in Bangkok, his mobile phone and passport were taken away by unknown people. He was forced into vehicles and boats and taken to Myanmar.

Tsang said he was forced to engage in illegal activities such as telecom scams and was abused and beaten by groups of six to seven people. Sometimes they even used a stun gun. The month-long torture has left him with long burning scars and jagged wounds, he said.

He said he was guarded by armed captors who appeared to be wearing military clothing.

"There wasn't always food," Tsang said.

The condition of his prison was horrifying, Tsang said, according to Headline Daily. Other victims were shackled to a cramped space with no access to a bathroom and some were covered in blood from the beatings.

He said he could only be grateful that his organs were not harvested and sold in the black market. And his ordeal ended when his family paid the ransom.

His unknown captors brought Tsang back to the Thailand border and his relatives brought him back Bangkok and eventually Hong Kong.

Tsang said he is traumatized by the experience but is revealing it to serve as a cautionary tale for others. He also called on the Hong Kong government to provide support and assistance.

Separately, mainland fugitive She Zhijiang, 40, wanted for allegedly running illegal online gambling operations and suspected of operating an organ-harvesting and human-trafficking operation in Myanmar, was arrested last week in Thailand by local police.

The National Police Agency of Taiwan reportedly estimated that at least 2,000 Taiwanese are still being held captive in human-trafficking cases.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Criminal Investigation Bureau have received 340 requests for assistance by stranded Taiwanese overseas so far. A special task force has been established to probe into the human-trafficking cases.

Traffickers tend to lure online victims with promising and well-paid jobs overseas. They then abduct the victims and take them to Myanmar or Cambodia when they arrive.

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