Wellington: A study has revealed that Indonesian fishermen have been beaten, raped and forced to eat rotten food on Korean-owned fishing boats, operating in New Zealand`s exclusive economic zone.
New Auckland University research entitled ‘Not in New Zealand`s waters, surely?’ compiled from interviews with dozens of fishermen, exposed levels of inhumane treatment suffered by 2,000 mainly Indonesian men on 27 vessels.
The conditions they faced were judged ‘appalling’ with gruesome accounts of extreme physical violence and verbal abuse, News.com.au reports.
“Officers are vicious bastards, factory manager just rapped this 12kg stainless steel pan over his head, splits the top of his head, blood pissing out everywhere,” an informant told the University.
“I told the Master can`t leave him cause he`s bleeding all over the squid.” He said, ``Oh no no, he`s Indonesian, no touchy no touchy”, the informant added.
According to the report, Muslim workers were frequently called dogs, monkeys and other derogatory names.
Some were sexually abused, one describing being forced to ‘massage’ the captain every day.
The fishermen described their experience as being ‘trapped into modern slavery’, and living ‘like rats’.
The study quoted a New Zealand official, as calling the boats “a floating freezer, absolutely appalling conditions just like a slum, there are definitely human rights abuses out there, they are slave ships”.
Many of the interviewees were survivors from the 30-year-old Oyang 70 that sank off New Zealand`s South Island last year, the report said.
Sajo Oyang Corporation, the Korean company at the centre of the allegations, however, denied claims of widespread abuse.
It said it had not been asked to offer evidence and claimed the researchers were known to be against foreign fishing.