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Dr. Thang presenting at BBQ Social Fundraiser event on August 2nd.

More than 40 brave souls came out to support a fundraising effort on Sunday August 2, 2009, at Cherry Hill Park in Falls Church, Virginia to benefit the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA), a coalition that helps victims of human trafficking in Malaysia. Despite the rain, people came to see Dr. Thang Dinh Nguyen, Executive Director of BPSOS, present facts of a labor trafficking case involving Sony, the Japanese electronics giant. Sony hired 15 Vietnamese workers through a labor supply company and subsequently breached its contract with these workers by releasing them from work—long before the end of their contracts.

The Vietnamese workers, all women, had signed a contract guaranteeing them 27 months of work at Sony in Malaysia. After being released by Sony, these women have been sent to different employers bythe labor supply company to work long hours without pay. Instead of resolving the situation, Sony tried to wash their hands of it and have not claimed responsibility for their own actions.

The workers are caught in a dilemma: they must pay a ransom to the labor supply company for their passport, which is kept by the company, but they don’t have the money because they have not been paid for their work. The fundraiser was set up to raise money so that CAMSA can help these Vietnamese women regain their freedom and get restitution for the breach of contract from Sony. The BBQ event raised $2,000 to directly help the victims pursue their case against Sony.

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Dr. Thang testifying before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

July 23 — Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS and co-founder of Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA), testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on labor trafficking in Vietnam. The case of 15 Vietnamese women recruited to work at Sony plants in Malaysia were brought up, along with pictures of the holding center where they were incarcerated. These workers have been forced to work on different jobs not included in the contract and have not been paid for six months.

“Some of them have to sell their bodies in exchange for food,” Dr. Thang explained to a panel of seven US members of Congress.

“This is not labor trafficking. It is slavery,” exclaimed Congressman Ed Royce (California). The Congressman then asked for copies of the pictures to bring the case to the attention of the entire House of Representatives. He also asked that all pictures be included in the Commission’s official records.

Posted by: BPSOS | July 22, 2009

Key Briefs & Reports: Press Release

A press release on CAMSA’s campaign against Sony and its labor supplier JR Holdings went out on July 22, 2009. The press release outlines the case against Sony Corporation and the situation for the 15 Vietnamese women who worked for Sony.

“Sony used a labor supply company that deceived the women into signing sham contracts,” said Dr. Thang, Executive Director of Boat People SOS and a founding member of CAMSA. “JR Holdings used intimidation and incarceration to exploit these women.” Dr. Thang traveled to Malaysia to personally interview these women.

According to the women Dr. Thang interviewed, they paid large service fees with the promise that they would have at least 27 months of employment with Sony. However, after a year, Sony returned the workers to JR Holdings claiming their services were no longer needed.

No longer employed, the women had to resort to whatever means necessary to survive. Some of the women had to sell their bodies just to get enough money for food. Others had to scavenge or beg for food.

“These women paid steep fees to obtain these jobs and had to endure mental and physical anguish,” said Dr. Thang. “Sony has not lived up to its own supplier code of conduct and they should be held responsible for the treatment of these women.”

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The JR Holdings dormitory where Vietnamese recruited to work for Sony are held.

July 22 – BPSOS sent the press release on the labor trafficking case of 15 Vietnamese women recruited to work at Sony plants in Malaysia to the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) with a request for a meeting to discuss this case.

“This case illustrates the problem of labor trafficking in Malaysia, a country that G/TIP ranks in Tier 3 in its 2009 trafficking in persons report,” explained Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS and co-founder of Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA).

A meeting is being scheduled ahead of a G/TIP delegation to Malaysia.

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Dr. Thang interviewing two of the victims of labor trafficking

July 22 — Radio Free Asia broadcasted its interview with two victims of in the labor trafficking case that involves Sony and two Malaysian labor suppliers: JR Holdings and Teguh Sarjana Bumi. The program also featured Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang who spoke on behalf of Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA).

On July 2, Dr. Thang met with several of the victims at a dormitory near Kuala Lumpur run by JR Holdings. He conducted an in-depth interview with two of the victims. He was accompanied by a local reporter, a local photographer, a videographer from America, and two staff members of Tenaganita, the prime anti-trafficking organization in Malaysia.

CAMSA offered the workers food and some cash.

The RFA story was re-broadcast on major radio programs in the US and other countries, including Vietnamese Public Radio, Saigon Houston Radio, Saigon Dallas Radio, Little Saigon Radio, and Mach Song Radio.

The RFA story can be found at: http://www.rfa.org/vietnamese/in_depth/Viet-workers-in-malaysia-still-jobless-and-unpaid-by-main-company-07222009154934.html?searchterm=None

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Copy of the contract signed with JR Holdings

July 22 — Titled “Profits from Tears: Labor Trafficking by an Electronics Giant”, the video documenting the plight of 15 Vietnamese workers of Sony in Malaysia was released on YouTube with English subtitles.

This English version of the video will be sent to US members of Congress and the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP).

The video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRfFMDfSibY

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Dr. Thang conducting interview with two victims who were recruited to work at Sony plants in Malaysia

July 21 — A video documenting the trafficking of 15 Vietnamese women that worked at two Sony plants in Malaysia was posted on YouTube by Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA). This video features the interview conducted by Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, co-founder of CAMSA and Executive Director of BPSOS, with two of the victims on July 2.

The video, in Vietnamese, can be watched at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NMwG_4p-c

Community groups and online media have posted links to the YouTube video.

The video is used by CAMSA Champion Teams for presentation at public forums.

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The JR Holdings dormitory where Vietnamese workers recruited to work for Sony are held

July 17 – Mach Song, a national newspaper in Vietnamese with an online edition, carries the story of 15 Vietnamese women trafficked to Malaysia in late 2007. They were promised 27 months of work at Sony plants with decent wages. However, less than a year later Sony returned them to JR Holdings, a Malaysian labor supplier, which has since mistreated and exploited the workers.

On July 2, Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS and co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA), interviewed two of the victims during his visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The news story is reprinted on many major newspapers, including Viet Bao Daily and Saigon Houston Daily.

Daewoosa group photo 09Guests at the July 4 Daewoosa anniversary dinner included (from the left) Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang; Stanley Togikawa; Sue French, JD; Ambassador Luis CdeBaca; Virginia Lynn Sudbury, Esq.; Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees (ret.).

July 17, 2009: BPSOS in Houston hosted a dinner on July 4 marking the10th anniversary of the Daewoosa American Samoa case, at which survivors of the largest human trafficking case ever prosecuted by the US Justice Department were honored alongside their allies.

Several prominent figures offered their reflections on the high-profile case, in which hundreds of Vietnamese and Chinese workers were rescued from beatings, starvation, overwork, and fraud at the hands of the firm Daewoosa in American Samoa.

The most important people at the event, however, were the survivors themselves, who included Houston residents and many who traveled from around the US to be present. Read More…

CAMSA logo teamJuly 16, 2009: Reports of a worker being beaten about the head by a supervisor have prompted the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) to tackle a new case in Malaysia. The alleged beating took place at Eko Metal Industries, where over 100 workers are currently on strike to protest this brutality.

CAMSA staff members were alarmed to hear that the worker was beaten to the extent that he received severe injuries, such that he was bleeding from the head and one ear, and was subsequently admitted to the hospital for three days. Read More…

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