Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – A joint team of police and immigration officers has rescued 252 Bangladeshi nationals who were discovered locked inside a shop house in Kampung Lalang, just off Jl. Gatot Subroto in Medan, North Sumatra.
The Bangladeshi nationals, who were all male, were believed to be victims of trafficking and had been locked up in the two-story building for over two months without adequate food.
Medan Immigration Office head Fery Monang Sihite said the case had been uncovered thanks to a report from local residents who had observed suspicious activities at the shop house.
"Their [physical] condition is very worrying. They didn't seem to have enough food," Fery told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, after the Bangladeshi nationals had been transferred from the immigration office to the immigration detention center (rudenim) at Belawan harbor.
He said this was the first case of people held against their will that had occurred in Medan. The Bangladeshi nationals were all found without proper travel documents and were believed to be victims of human trafficking.
The head of the North Sumatra office of the Law and Human Rights Ministry, Priyadi, said the Bangladeshi men entered Indonesia legally through Bali and Yogyakarta.
"Their passports were kept by someone and our officers are pursuing this man. We'll settle the issue," he said on Friday.
Mamot Badon Mia, 27, was grateful that he had been rescued. "We were there for two months and seven days. It was uncertain when we would receive meals. Thank God, we were never [beaten]," Badon told the Post.
Mia said the group had intended to reach Malaysia, but their agency had diverted them to Indonesia instead. "We all had passports with us, but [the agency] took them, including our [mobile phones]," he said, adding that he did not recall details about the agency.- (swa/swd)