Briefs: Taiwan Warns of Forced Labor, Endangered Hog Deer, PM on Myanmar

3 min read
An endangered hog deer was captured on camera trap in 2017, with a new study estimating there are as many as 84 deer in a small patch of Kratie grassland. (WWF Cambodia)
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Taiwanese Held Against Their Will in Cambodia

More than 10 Taiwanese individuals have been coerced into working in scams in Cambodia, with its trade office in Ho Chi Minh City trying to secure their return, Taiwanese media reported.

Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou told a news briefing in Taipei this week that the victims had been held against their will after having their passports taken away, and were forced to work illegally, the Taipei Times reported.

They had been lured to take up work in Cambodia by criminal groups that promised them high salaries and favorable treatment. Those who resisted performing the work after their arrival had been beaten, Ou said, according to the Taipei Times.

Individuals who tried to negotiate with their captors were asked to pay $10,000 to $30,000 for their release. Taiwan’s office in Ho Chi Minh City was working to ensure their return, Ou added, noting that its office in Cambodia was closed in 1997.

Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Chum Sounry has not responded to questions.

Human trafficking and enslavement continue across Cambodia, according to victims, with little attention or concerted action in response. Thai and Chinese nationals are among victims who have spoken of compounds with hundreds or thousands of workers forced to perpetuate online scams.

Study Estimates 84 Endangered Hog Deer in Kratie

An endangered deer once thought to be extinct in Cambodia has an estimated population of 84 in a small patch of Kratie grassland, according to a new research study.

Hog deer, a small deer with white-tipped tails, was rediscovered in the country in 2006, but there has previously been little information about their population.

The new study, published in Mammal Research, conducted two camera trap surveys: The first identified a 2-square-km “remnant patch” of tall moist grassland in Kratie that was the only location the deer was able to be found.

The second survey focused on the patch, leading to an estimated population of 84 hog deer.

“We conclude that the recently rediscovered hog deer population in Kratie province is extremely vulnerable to extinction due to its small size and its complete dependency on a tiny remnant patch of core habitat,” say the researchers, led by nonprofit Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation’s Tim van Berkel. “Conservation and restoration actions to preserve and restore prime habitat are urgently required to prevent local extinction.”

Hun Sen Has Videoconference With Myanmar Junta

Prime Minister Hun Sen held a call with Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing on Thursday, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The call followed Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar earlier this month, which was met by the burning of portraits by protesters and questions from other Asean leaders. Some saw the visit as legitimizing last year’s coup.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi received additional charges and jail sentences in the wake of Hun Sen’s visits, while groups in Myanmar spoke of continued conflict and violence despite the announcement of a ceasefire extension.

According to the ministry, Hun Sen expressed appreciation for Myanmar’s support of Cambodia’s Asean chairmanship, while telling the general that as chair Cambodia was “deeply concerned over the persistent violence in Myanmar.”

Hun Sen also made a four-point appeal, which includes implementing Asean’s previous five-point consensus on Myanmar alongside three other points that echo points already in the Asean five-point consensus.

Hun Sen and Min Aung Hlaing “agreed to continue engaging in candid discussions on matters of mutual interests.”

Compiled by Michael Dickison

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