06-24-2018  11:11 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

Teen uses sign language to help blind and deaf man on flight

BOSTON (AP) — A teenager is being credited with coming to the aid of a blind and deaf man during a flight from Boston to Portland, Oregon.Clara Daly, of Calabasas, California, says she and her mother were traveling last week when the flight attendants asked if anyone knew American Sign...

18-year-old driver dies after colliding with log truck

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State Police say an 18-year-old girl has died after colliding with a log truck on Highway 101 near Beaver.Law enforcement officials say Mikayla Michelle Howard was driving a 2003 Saab when it crossed into the other lane for an unknown reason on Friday morning....

New Mexico residents to testify on atomic bomb fallout

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world's first atomic bomb test say they were long ignored about the lingering health effects and were expected to share their stories with Congress.The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium plans to...

Small plane hits car after missing runway near Snohomish

SNOHOMISH, Wash. (AP) — A small plane hit a car after overshooting the runway at an airfield near Snohomish.The Seattle Times reports that three people, including a child, were in a single-engine plane when it was approaching the Harvey Air Field on Saturday.Lt. Rick Hawkins of the Snohomish...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Meek Mill debuts 'Stay Woke' song at BET Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the 2018 BET Awards, which are being presented Sunday at the Microsoft Theater (all times local):7:45 p.m.Rapper Meek Mill has performed a new song, "Stay Woke," on the BET Awards with a striking performance that touched on police violence against black youth...

Anita Baker, H.E.R., Meek Mill shine at BET Awards

The 2018 BET Awards barely handed out any trophies with big stars like Cardi B, Drake and Kendrick Lamar absent, but the show included superior performances by rising singer H.E.R, rapper Meek Mill and gospel artist Yolanda Adams, who paid tribute to Anita Baker and nearly brought her to...

Complete list of winners at Sunday night's 2018 BET Awards

The complete list of winners of the 2018 BET Awards, presented Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles:— Video of the year: Drake— Best male R&B/pop artist: Bruno Mars— Best female R&B/pop Artist: Beyonce— Best male hip hop artist: Kendrick Lamar—...

ENTERTAINMENT

The Latest: Prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting

The Latest on the investigation into the business interests of Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen (all times local):8:30 p.m.Stormy Daniels' lawyer says the porn actress' meeting with federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer has...

Complete list of winners at Sunday night's 2018 BET Awards

The complete list of winners of the 2018 BET Awards, presented Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles:— Video of the year: Drake— Best male R&B/pop artist: Bruno Mars— Best female R&B/pop Artist: Beyonce— Best male hip hop artist: Kendrick Lamar—...

US prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting in Cohen probe

Porn actress Stormy Daniels was scheduled to meet with federal prosecutors in New York on Monday as part of their investigation into President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney, but the meeting was abruptly cancelled late Sunday after it was reported by news organizations, her attorney...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Anita Baker, H.E.R., Meek Mill shine at BET Awards

The 2018 BET Awards barely handed out any trophies with big stars like Cardi B, Drake and Kendrick Lamar absent,...

US prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting in Cohen probe

Porn actress Stormy Daniels was scheduled to meet with federal prosecutors in New York on Monday as part of their...

Thousands flee as flames race across dry rural California

CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Wind-driven wildfires destroyed buildings and threatened hundreds of others...

Saudi women in driver's seat as longstanding ban is lifted

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi women steered their way through busy city streets on Sunday, driving to...

Australia and Vanuatu to negotiate security treaty

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia said on Monday it would negotiate a security treaty with Vanuatu,...

Indonesia identifies location of ferry deep in crater lake

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia has identified the suspected location of an overcrowded ferry that sank...

Margie Mason, Associated Press

TUAL, Indonesia (AP) — All he did was ask to go home.

The last time the Burmese slave made the same request, he was beaten almost to death. But after being gone eight years and forced to work on a boat in faraway Indonesia, Myint Naing was willing to risk everything to see his mother again.

So he threw himself on the ground and begged for freedom. Instead, the captain vowed to kill him for trying to jump ship, and chained him for three days without food or water.

He was afraid he would disappear. And that his mother would have no idea where to look.

Myint is one of more than 800 current and former slaves rescued or repatriated after a year-long Associated Press investigation into pervasive labor abuses in Southeast Asia's fishing industry.

Thailand's booming seafood business alone runs on an estimated 200,000 migrant workers, many of them forced onto boats after being tricked, kidnapped or sold. It's a brutal trade that has operated for decades, with companies relying on slaves to supply fish to the United States, Europe and Japan — on dinner tables and in cat food bowls.

Myint, his family and his friends recounted his story to AP, which also followed parts of his journey. It is strikingly similar to accounts given by many of the more than 330 current and former slaves from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand interviewed in person or in writing by AP.

In 1993, a broker visited Myint's village in southern Myanmar with promises of jobs for young men in Thailand. Myint was only 18 years old, with no travel experience, but his family was desperate for money. So his mother finally relented. When the agent returned, he hustled his new recruits to grab their bags immediately.

Myint's mother wasn't home. He never got to say goodbye.

A month later, Myint found himself at sea. After 15 days, his boat finally docked on the remote Indonesian island of Tual, surrounded by one of the world's richest fishing grounds. The Thai captain shouted that everyone on board now belonged to him: "You Burmese are never going home. You were sold, and no one is ever coming to rescue you."

Myint spent weeks at a time on the open ocean, living only on rice and the parts of the catch no one else would eat. As Thailand's seafood export industry has expanded, overfishing has forced trawlers farther into foreign waters. So migrants are now trapped for months, or even years, aboard floating prisons.

During the busiest times, the men worked up to 24 hours a day. There was no medicine, and they were forced to drink boiled sea water.

Anyone who took a break or fell ill was hit by the captain. Fishermen said that workers on some boats were killed if they slowed down, while others simply flung themselves overboard.

Myint was paid only $10 a month, and sometimes not at all. By 1996, after three years, he had had enough: He asked for the first time to go home.

His request was answered by a helmet cracking his skull.

He ran away. An Indonesian family took mercy on Myint until he healed, and then offered him food and shelter for work on their farm. For five years, he lived this simple life. But he couldn't forget his relatives in Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, or the friends he left behind on the boat.

In 2001, he heard one captain was offering to take fishermen back home if they agreed to work. So, eight years after he first arrived in Indonesia, he returned to the sea.

But the conditions were just as appalling as the first time, and the money still didn't come. If anything, the slave trade was getting worse. To meet growing demand, brokers sometimes even drugged and kidnapped migrant workers to get them on board.

After nine months on the water, Myint's captain told the crew he was abandoning them to go back to Thailand alone. Furious and desperate, the Burmese slave once again pleaded to go home. That, he said, was when he was chained to the boat.

Searching desperately, he found a small piece of metal to pick the lock. Hours later, he heard a click. The shackles slid off. He dove into the black water after midnight and swam to shore.

Myint hid alone in the jungle in Tual. He couldn't go to the police, afraid they might hand him over to the captains. He had no numbers to call home, and he was scared to contact the Myanmar embassy because it would expose him as an illegal migrant.

He had lost nearly a decade to slavery, and had suffered what appeared to be a stroke, leaving his right arm partly paralyzed. He started to believe the captain had been right: There really was no escape.

By now, he had forgotten what his mother looked like and knew his little sister would be all grown up.

In 2011, the solitude had become too much. Myint moved to the island of Dobo, where he heard there was a small community of former Burmese slaves. He continued to live quietly, surviving on the vegetables he grew.

Then one day in April, a friend told him an AP report on slavery had spurred the Indonesian government to start rescuing current and former slaves. Officials came to Dobo and took Myint back to Tual — the island where he was once enslaved — to join hundreds of other free men.

After 22 years in Indonesia, Myint was finally going home. But what, he wondered, would he find?

The flight to Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, was a terrifying first. Myint, now 40, was a stranger to his own country.

Making his way to his small village, he spotted a plump Burmese woman.

They exploded into an embrace, and the tears that spilled were of joy and mourning for all the lost time apart. "Brother, it's so good that you are back!" his little sister sobbed. "We don't need money! We just need family!"

Minutes later, he saw his mother, running toward him.

He howled and fell to the ground. She swept him up in her arms and softly stroked his head, cradling him as he let everything go.

He was finally free to see the face from his dreams. He would never forget it again.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE — Myint Naing's story comes from interviews with him, his family, his friends and other former slaves, and through following his journey to his home in Myanmar. He's among hundreds rescued and returned to their families after a year-long AP investigation exposed extreme labor abuses in Southeast Asia's seafood industry. Reporters documented how slave-caught fish was shipped from Indonesia to Thailand. It can then be exported to the United States and cloud the supply chains of supermarkets and distributors, including Wal-Mart, Sysco and Kroger, and pet food brands, such as Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams. The companies have all said they strongly condemn labor abuse and are taking steps to prevent it.

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