In-depth
Illegal labourer escapes from brutal employer
  • By Quoc Cuong-Xuan Thai | dtinews.vn | April 07, 2014 10:43 PM

An ethnic Vietnamese man, who illegally went to work in China, is being brought home after he was found lost in Pakistan.

Vu Gia Po, born in 1977, is from a H'Mong ethnic minority group in Meo Vac District, Ha Giang Province. Two years ago, Po and five other villagers illegally crossed the border into China, hoping to earn some money to escape poverty. According to Po's wife, her husband refused the invitations from a man called Vu Xi Gia three times. However, they could not resist when the man said they could earn money with easy work.

Ly Mi Tu, another H'Mong ethnic in the group said a car picked them up after arriving in China but it drove on for four days. They were exhausted from hunger and thirst but had to work immediately when the car stopped.

 

 Ly Mi Tu (right) swears off illegal labour exports

They saw that Vu Xi Gia received money from a Chinese man but did not know what for. Tu said, "Our work was cutting grass and planting trees. But we were often beaten up so Po ran away."

After Po had hid for several days and did not know where to go, he returned. He tried to ask about his family when he met other newly-arrived villagers. Thinking that Po wanted to gather people for another escape, the guards beat Po and people who crossed the border with him. The five of them were scared after being beaten for days so they carried out a plan to escape.

Without money and personal documents, they became homeless people before losing each other on the fifth day. Ly Mi Tu and two other people were arrested by Chinese police and transferred back to Vietnam. Even when all of the villagers had returned, Po remained missing.

In October 2013, Po was arrested for illegal immigration in Pakistan, 5,800 km away from his home. Po had no documents and can only speak the H'Mong language. The Vietnamese Embassy in Pakistan verified Po's identity and is preparing to transfer him back.

Meanwhile, Po's wife was tricked out of VND20 million (USD952) by a man who said he could bring Po back. Her worries for money continued when it was rumored that the authorities would only transfer Po to Hanoi. She had to sell part of the field and a buffalo in order to bring Po home.

 

Vu Gia Po's wife

Crossing borders to find work overseas is not a rare event among the ethnic people living in the northern tips of Vietnam. Chairman of Meo Vac District People's Committee Thao Mi Sinh said they have about 40km of borderline with two Chinese districts, Yunnan and Guangxi, so it's difficult to prevent illegal border crossings.

The three districts have had discussions in order to issue some kind of travel documents for the local people. However, the cases like Vu Gia Po are not protected by the laws in either countries. "They didn't reported to the local authorities. We only know about him after his family reported a missing person's case. Now we only hope to get him back home as soon as possible," said Nong Van Ngay, vice chairman of Khau Vai Commune People's Committee.

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