Teens tell of kidnap, torture in Myanmar

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 January, 2009, 12:00am

Teenagers Zhang Bo and Li Bin have told of the horror of being kidnapped and taken to Myanmar, where they were tortured until, as one said, 'I felt like dying'.

Their parents paid a ransom for their return, but others in the group of about 50 teenagers from the same city in Shanxi province are still captive. And mainland police say they can do little about it because the captive teens are in a militia-controlled zone.

The Beijing News reported yesterday that the teenagers, mostly from farming families in Yuncheng , were coaxed by human smugglers, or 'snakeheads', to leave home to work in Yunnan .

Once there, they were abducted and taken to Myanmar, where they were tortured until demands for ransoms of 40,000 to 80,000 yuan (HK$45,400 to HK$90,800) were met.

Zhang Bo and Li Bin, two middle school students in Yuncheng, were persuaded by one of their classmates to go to work in Longchuan county in Yunnan on October 16.

They said they were taken across a sugar-cane field on a motorcycle and told they were in Myanmar, according to the report.

It said the boys were asked to sign their names on two pieces of blank paper, which later turned out to be demands for ransom of 80,000 yuan. They were thrown into a small room the next day with many other teenagers, including one they knew who had disappeared in early October.

'Wang Yang [the missing boy] was there, and he looked like nothing but skin and bones. He did nothing but babble like an idiot,' Zhang Bo told the newspaper.

He said he had been burned on the neck with a cigarette butt and had his fingernails pulled out with clamps.

'They asked if it hurt when they did the stuff, and I said I felt like dying. Then they threw me the phone and told me to ask for money from home.'

Li Bin said the bandits stuck a chopstick through the skin on his back and probed around, leaving dozens of marks on his back.

The boys said they were beaten regularly and even told to fight with one another, with the winner rewarded with a meal and the loser being beaten up or thrown into a big cage with just an unlocked gate separating the boy from a bear.

'Every night the bear roared and shook the cage, and people inside were so scared that they wet their pants,' the boys said.

Their parents paid the ransom on November 5, and the boys were released three days later.

Yuncheng police said it was difficult to crack the cases because they have no jurisdiction. They had been trying to get Interpol to help, but had to give up because the area in Myanmar was controlled by militants.

The report said police believe the kidnappings were organised by snakeheads from Yuncheng.

Wang Jian, who was detained for two months, was released on January 2 after Yuncheng police paid his ransom out of their own pockets.