The real criminals are the unscrupulous governments and the criminal syndicates and a world dominated by big busines, says the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign.
We come here today to stand in solidarity with the women, men and children on the boats, waiting to be rescued and reach the safety of our shores. We stand in solidarity with those who have already arrived. And we remember and mourn with deep sadness those who have died during their voyage to seek refuge.
We remember and stand in solidarity too with all those who over the years have been so brutally persecuted by their governments, especially the Rohingya and others in Myanmar. We remember all those who have been ruthlessly trafficked and abused by criminal syndicates, including those who have lost their lives in the horror camps in Thailand and elsewhere.
We urge our government to search for and rescue those on the boats as speedily as possible, to save the lives of innocent women, men and children. They are not the criminals. Let us bring them safely to shore and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.
We stand in solidarity with our government and their agencies, to offer the people on the boats welcome and help and assistance in whatever way we can. And in solidarity with those who quietly have been reaching out and providing help in this time of need.
We never want the deaths and trauma to be repeated. The real criminals are the unscrupulous governments and the criminal syndicates and a world dominated by big business, which puts profit far above people and where people so often are treated as commodities.
It is a world we stand witness to, a world on our watch. It is a world in which the human traffickers, the people smugglers, the rapists, the torturers, the bribers, the ransomers, the cheats and the modern day slavers flourish.
We say – let us put a stop to this. Let us call governments and businesses to account, where oppression and exploitation are to be found, where profit is sought regardless of the lives of women and men and children.
Let us say to the Myanmar government: you are in breach of your duties to your citizens and to humanity; what you are doing is unacceptable, and you must change.
We stand in solidarity and say to our governments and enforcement agencies – let us protect the vulnerable, let us hunt down and bring to justice the human traffickers, the people smugglers, the criminal syndicates, and those agents and employers who deal in human beings for quick profit, who are the modern day slavers.
Let us join together and say, Not on Our Watch; let us stop the horror that is human trafficking and the exploitation of people.
Ladies and gentlemen, we stand in solidarity.
This statement was read out at the Solidarity Vigil for the People on the Boats organised by the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign at the Penang Esplanade on 22 May 2015.