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Trafficking victims in Myanmar forced to sell organs

HANOI – Trafficking victims held against their will in Myanmar and forced to work in scamming operations are being forced to sell their organs if they do not meet quotas, a charity in Vietnam said on Nov 30.

At least 120,000 people are being held in compounds in the South-east Asian country, according to the United Nations human rights office, and are forced to work scamming their compatriots online.

The trafficked citizens – from China, Vietnam and other countries – are told to target and groom their compatriots, before cajoling them into ploughing money into fake investment platforms and other ruses.

Blue Dragon, a charity that rescues victims from human trafficking in Vietnam, said the scamming gangs set quotas for how much money each trafficked worker needed to extract from the scam victims.

If targets are not met, workers are subject to physical punishment – and, more recently, organ removal.

“The traffickers have been taking the organs of their victims, such as the kidneys, if they haven’t been working hard enough,” said Mr Michael Brosowski, Blue Dragon’s founder.

In August, the charity rescued a 36-year-old Vietnamese man from Myanmar who had been forced to sell his kidney after being trafficked into a scam casino.

“Many of the victims from Myanmar have experienced multiple exploitations in this way,” said Dr Caitlin Wyndham, research and learning leader at Blue Dragon.

The trafficked citizens in Myanmar have been caught up in fighting that has raged across the country’s northern Shan state after an alliance of ethnic minority groups launched a surprise offensive against the military.

Mr Brosowski said that while many had been set free, Vietnamese victims had been unable to return home and had nowhere to go.

There has been the “formation of what looks like refugee camps”, he said.

“They are just trying to avoid violence.”

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said around 700 Vietnamese citizens were trapped in Myanmar, and it was trying to bring them home.

There are thought to be around 100,000 people being held in scam compounds in Cambodia.

Blue Dragon said the compounds had spread into some Pacific Ocean islands. – AFP

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