Indonesia releases 7 Vietnamese fishermen

TN News

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Seven fishermen from southern Vietnam have been released after being held in Indonesia since early January for allegedly intruding into the country's waters.

Border guards in Bac Lieu Province in the Mekong Delta on Friday completed procedures to reunite the fishermen with their families.

A Saturday report by news website VnExpress said the men had been believed to be missing at sea since they did not return after setting out on a fishing trip on January 4.

They said they had been detained on Indonesia's Tarempa island and were beaten a lot during the first month. Later they were made to work at construction sites - carrying rocks and mixing concrete - and paid just enough to meet daily needs.

Indonesian authorities on June 22 transferred the seven fishermen to a fishing boat from the neighboring Kien Giang Province, but are still keeping captain Le Hoang Liem, also from Bac Lieu.

Vietnamese government agencies are working with their Indonesia counterparts to bring Liem home.

Many southern Vietnamese fishermen have been arrested by coastal countries in the region for alleged territorial violations over the last several months.

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Pham Minh Tuan, First Secretary of Vietnam Embassy who is in charge of protecting Vietnamese expats in Thailand, said in a Vietnam News Agency report last December that since 2010, more Vietnamese fishermen, most of them from the southern region, have illegally entered Cambodian and Thai waters that border Vietnam's.

Tuan said the fishermen know little about water sovereignty and the worsening economic situation is pushing them farther into the sea to try and make a living.

He also said that many Vietnamese fishermen have switched to waters to the south and west of Vietnam as they are afraid of Chinese attacks on the East Sea.

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