I cannot pretend to even begin to understand the depth of despair of the 39 families who lost their relatives, suffocated in a lorry as they were smuggled into the UK.
WE, in the UK, and in many EU States, have at least some welfare networks to catch us in such circumstances, to help us survive, rook for jobs, retrain, skill-up, maybe start a microbusiness or educate ourselves, but in Countries like Viet Nam, ordinary people are mostly reliant on the “head of the family” providing for his dependents, with little or no help, except for relatives and, in dire situations, loansharks and criminals,
“The family had borrowed to build their house, and the journey west – facilitated by human traffickers – required £20,000 ($25,000) – a huge sum for which Le Minh Tuan had to mortgage his two plots of land.
Everything hung on Le Van Ha landing a good job, and saving to pay back the loan.
“He’s left us with a huge debt,” Le Minh Tuan said. “I don’t know when we can ever pay it back. I’m an old man now, my health is poor, and I have to help bring up his children.”
His world has fallen apart.
This story may be an extreme, tragic example, but many hundreds of thousands of others around the world unfold with less extreme consequences, but into years, decades, indeed whole lifetimes of suffering. Trafficked people seldom end-up unscathed, whether the punishing trials of the journey to reach their ‘Shan Gri La’ of affluence, in the West, brutalised, abused and exploited by traffickers. Many will be sold into slavery long before they reach their destination and, instead of realising the dream safe, secure, well-paid jobs that had been dangled before their desperately credulous faces by the traffickers – will end their lives either in brothels, to be used like flesh dolls, filmed by porn peddlers and then discarded, sometimes violently, when they are of no more use – or to work in mines, quarries and underground tunnels, for slavers.
We should look beyond these tragic episodes, however, at the antecedents, the roots of these horrific situations. We should acknowledge and own the Colonial roots of the poverty, the role our civilisations played in the impoverishment of those economies.
Our Western Nations like to tell ourselves that these “shit-hole countries” – as the vile Donald Trump publicly called them – were conquered by force, using superior destructive technology. They were stripped of all wealth, with treasures amounting to unimaginable value stolen from royal palaces, temples and mosques, but also land appropriated, and people put to work to service Western greed, in the production, extraction, processing and shipping of everything, from precious metals and gems to foodtuffs, spices and textiles.
So, the lives of these modern victims, are as beads, added to a rosary of heinous acts, billions upon billions of them, over the past 300 + years – in the context of modern Western colonialism, theough the crimse of imperialsm go as far back as Patriarchy itself.
The West owes its former colonial victims centuries of reparation. Many choose to say “that was a long time ago” and to ignore the realities of how today’s ills have their oots in that brutal, arrogant, imperialist paradigm. So, let us get behind a new concept of the future that dispenses with divisive notions of race, colour, ethnicity, cultural differences, enmities and compatition, and follow the example of our children, in declaring this One Earth, One People, One Love, One Future… or no future at all!