Tsunami Ghouls
January 4, 2005 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Robbery, Rape and Kidnapping: Tsunami Aftermath (Sun.UK link) and Criminals target tsunami victims (BBC link). After surviving the tsunami, the loss of their homes, their families and pretty much everything they own, now the human predators are getting in on the action.
"In Thailand thieves disguised as police and rescuers looted suitcases and hotel safes around the resort of Khao Lak, where up to 3,000 died."
"One of the most disturbing allegations is that criminal gangs are befriending children orphaned by the tsunami, and selling them to sex traffickers."
""I don't think you could have a more vulnerable child on Earth than a child in this situation," Mr Budd told the BBC News website."
posted by fenriq (50 comments total)
More info that didn't make sense to put into the FPP.

Top 10 Myths of Disaster Relief, Tsunami FAQ and a Craigslist Tsunami Aid Warning.
posted by fenriq at 10:42 AM on January 4, 2005

Jesus. Whenever I think some members of humanity can't sink any lower, they always surprise me.
posted by mathowie at 10:44 AM on January 4, 2005

Rethuglicans in Thailand?
posted by nofundy at 10:47 AM on January 4, 2005

There's also fake emails claiming to be from Oxfam circulating, asking for donations. Sick.

And the child trafficking is just horrifying. Kristian Walker has probably survived, was in hospital in Khao Lak for minor injuries and has now gone missing, after leaving the hospital with an unknown man. Indonesias government has now stopped children under 16 from leaving the country to try and prevent any children from being kidnapped.
posted by dabitch at 11:00 AM on January 4, 2005

Sometimes people really, really suck.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:08 AM on January 4, 2005

Link from The Scotsman in English regarding the kidnapping of Kristian Walker.
posted by Dunvegan at 11:13 AM on January 4, 2005

Thanks Dunvegan, my google-fu is broken today.
posted by dabitch at 11:19 AM on January 4, 2005

dabitch, I heard Kristian was brought to the hospital not once but twice by his abductor.

SisterHavana, it is stories like this that really make it hard for me to believe in the fundamental good of humanity. I know its there but it just gets so overshadowed by scum like this.
posted by fenriq at 11:20 AM on January 4, 2005

SisterHavana, it is stories like this that really make it hard for me to believe in the fundamental good of humanity. I know its there but it just gets so overshadowed by scum like this.

Unfortunately, I gave up on humanity a long time ago.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:36 AM on January 4, 2005

how horrible.... fenriq, lets not all lose belief in good. That will be as horrible. Don't forget all those who got together to help in anyway they can. And there are lots, LOTS of them.
Devastation sends people looting ritzy hotels' vaults, sad but still understandable. But, people stealing from church donations in... England or roaming missing people's houses in... Sweden that's well.... shocking.
But, rape? child trafficking? Are offenders' networks so elaborate that they reach trouble areas that quickly? Isn't that a "war" that our leaders take on, WTF?
posted by carmina at 11:38 AM on January 4, 2005

sorry, 'bout syntax, too distraught...
Matt, could you please add "Syntax check" in the buttons below?
posted by carmina at 11:42 AM on January 4, 2005

"...fundamental good of humanity."????

fenriq, please give me the smallest iota of proof that this exists.
posted by MotherTucker at 11:43 AM on January 4, 2005

MotherTucker, the best example of the good of humanity comes when I look in my son's eyes. Or when he looks up at me and laughs.

Oh yeah, and someone actually yielded to me on the highway this morning.
posted by fenriq at 11:45 AM on January 4, 2005

Fenriq, yes the Swedish article states that witnesses said Kristian visited the hospital twice for minor injuries.

Sweden, unlike Denmark and Norway are not making the list of missing people public as they are concerned about burglars ransacking their houses (straight from Göran Perssons mouth). All security companies in Sweden got together and offered to guard all houses for free as their way of helping out.
posted by dabitch at 11:51 AM on January 4, 2005

I REALLY try to stay opposed to the death penalty, but keep coming across stories like this. What of any value is being lost when shooting a child sex trafficker in the head, besides the bullet and gun powder that is? I just can't seem to get with the "all" part of "all human life is sacred". Sorry gang.
posted by Scoo at 11:51 AM on January 4, 2005

Scoo, no! no! Don't go there!
I have two small kids and sex offence is my worst nightmare about them. But, no, I will say NO to any death penalty. (I admit it is hard, as I say it). Try to see that the root of the problem is in a society that lets abusive people go on and create more abuse and eventually create other abusive people. Circumstances not people create abuse.
posted by carmina at 11:59 AM on January 4, 2005

Scoo: My own take is that the opposition death penalty isn't necessarily for the sake of criminal--though for some people it probably is--but rather for the society that has power over the criminals life. What is lost that is of "value" is the idea that a group or civilization has no more right of decision over whether a human lives or dies than an individual. After all, a child trafficker wouldn't hesitate to kill you if you got in his way, right?

On Preview: That one I'm not so sure about, Carmina--everyone has a tinge of evil in them--that's how we get genocides, right?
posted by goodglovin77 at 12:04 PM on January 4, 2005

I'm all for the death penalty, especially in such disgusting cases like this.

dabitch, I saw that news and it freakin' amazed me! Swedes are looting people who were lost while on vacation. That is grotesque. And think about the ones who survived, they come home to a looted house after nearly dying.

I wish it were possible to vote these people off the island called Earth. Can't we round them up and shoot them into the sun?

Carmina, I wish I could believe that circumstance is responsible for evil but I just don't think its true. I think that there are people in the world who just don't give a damn about anything or anyone but themselves.

And goodglovin77, I wouldn't hesitate to kill a child trafficker for an instant (assuming I was completely positive that they were a child trafficker). And I don't think I'd feel bad about it all afterwards.
posted by fenriq at 12:07 PM on January 4, 2005

It's not so much about the fundamental good of humanity. It's that chaos breeds more chaos (see Iraq) and evil people will always step in to take advantage.
posted by fungible at 12:08 PM on January 4, 2005

Rethuglicans in Thailand?

Nice to see witless partisanship always has a home at MeFi, even when the topic is tsunami orphans being sold into sex slavery.

Sometimes people really, really suck.

Considering how cynical some of the first online reactions to the tsunami, it's sad & unsurprising that self-important, irrational behavior greeted the tsunami victims IRL, too.
posted by dhoyt at 12:17 PM on January 4, 2005

between that and this, there's really no end to disgusting opportunism.
posted by blendor at 12:19 PM on January 4, 2005

goodglovin77, there is (probably) an element of human nature that is subject to manipulation. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, religious wars, or any wars for that matter, are justifiable in some (few) people's minds (with more than a tinge of evil in them) and then it is on to convincing (ie hypnotizing) the masses to render them inactive.
On the otherhand, yes, I do not know of any innate reason for the "goodness" in people but I cannot see one for the "evilness" either.

fenriq, ok shoot the bastard. but then, tell me what did you achieve? you, happy now? I don't like republicans who think this way (and Kid Rock tells me you are not one of them) but, you know, our system/our society etc produces another child abuser out there right at the moment you are shooting yours.
posted by carmina at 12:22 PM on January 4, 2005

I like Fungible's point; the thing I go against in the death penalty has nothing to do with how nice it would feel to kill a child sex trafficker (notice the caveat that I would have to be absolutely sure; however, really, if I was wrong and just thought at the time that it was a child sex trafficker, it would probably still feel just as good, just bad afterwards): rather, it's that the impulse of revenge--which is pretty much all that the death penalty is, with the possible exceptions of martial law situations, which this may admittedly be, wherein there aren't resources to contain criminals etc.--can't really be dressed up too much, and it inevitably lowers us to the levels of killers ourselves.

On Preview: Might the problem with the whole fundamentally good/evil question be that the words "good" and "evil" are human words, invented by humans, and may be an insufficient and limiting perspective on our nature? Pretty old argument, obviously, but I think it's important here; I don't think people are being "manipulated" into committing genocides, I think people should take full responsibility for the fact that there's a little bit of an asshole in every one of us.
posted by goodglovin77 at 12:28 PM on January 4, 2005

Carmina, what I know is that the death penalty is a very effective deterrent for that particular scum of the earth to not repeat his crime. I am happy that he's paid the ultimate punishment and can't hurt anyone else again.

As a deterrent to other abusers, I do believe that knowing you'll die and die soon if you get caught, will keep more of the sick fucks inline than putting them in prison for the rest of their lives. For some, that's not such a bad thing, they're fed, they have shelter and structure. Death has few upsides to the convict.

I don't think there's innate evilness in people, I think they choose their path, just like most people choose to be good most of the time.
posted by fenriq at 12:32 PM on January 4, 2005

Wait a second, Fenriq, is that demonstrable? Seriously--I mean, other than martial law, which is not something we want to apply to the whole world, right? I mean, we don't heavily armed police running around popping off anyone that's declared a murderer? In which case, the "die quick" part is gone. As for the "die" part, I'm really not at all convinced that that works as a deterrent.

Also, are we talking about a dead child trafficker? If we are, then I'd be "happy" too, but again, is that the point?
posted by goodglovin77 at 12:37 PM on January 4, 2005

fenriq, I agree with you in nothing but that these people are "sick fucks". As such, federal regulation never helped them and frankly never helped their victims. Prevention, that's the key, i think. Instead of refurbishing the electric chair or even building more prisons, I want to see sex education in early teens, no cover ups of child abuse like in churches, schools, gyms etc, responsible parenthood and lots lots of counseling and different ways to identify abuse, to start with.
posted by carmina at 12:46 PM on January 4, 2005

carmina, I agree that more education and prevention is a good way to cut down on the abuses. It won't stop them all though. I do have some background in child abuse, my mother's been a social worker forever and used to work with violent youth offenders as well as abused kids. The damage done to them is nearly irreparable and completely unconscionable. Its the same sentiment I have towards those church molestations, they are ruining people for significant portions of their lives.

goodglovin77, is which demonstrable? I don't think any cop should be judge, jury and executioner, that's for sure.

My feeling is that the death penalty has little deterrent effect because it takes 15-20 years to put someone to death after they've been convicted. That's longer than some of the killers have been alive! Where's the deterrent there? But if you knew that two weeks after you are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (and I would actually support bumping that up to "beyond any doubt") that you will die. I do believe that would slow some folks down.
posted by fenriq at 1:17 PM on January 4, 2005

'federal regulation', 'refurbishing the electric chair', 'sex education in early teens', jeez what a derail: this thread is about child trafficking (and other wrongdoing) in South Asia.

Talking about good and evil in these circumstances is perhaps simplistic, but a counter-argument which is so narrowly USAian is plain ignorant.
posted by runkelfinker at 1:24 PM on January 4, 2005

my problem with the death penalty is simply that the justice system makes, and will always make, mistakes.

sometimes they're just screw ups. sometimes it's corruption. regardless, to me the ability to kill someone for crimes commited is not worth the possibility of killing an innocent person.

and that doesn't even touch on "who gets to decide what a qualifying offense is?" sure, we all agree on slavers. but some people would like to see performing an abortion - or even selling some pot - qualify.

because of these practical problems, i'd prefer that execution just not be available at all.

...i am sad that this means not being able to shoot these trafficers in the head, though.
posted by flaterik at 1:31 PM on January 4, 2005

Just to correct the SUN "In Sweden itself, the government kept the names of the nation’s 2,500 missing tourists secret after thieves broke into victims’ homes.", The gov are keeping it a secret for fear of opportunistic thieves, as we experienced that after the Estonia ferry disaster when a list of missing was actually published. Not even our Swedish tabloids have reported about robberies going on right now, but people worry it might happen.
posted by dabitch at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2005

Also another government official is quoted as saying they will publish a list when there is a better list, as the one they have now may have many people still alive on it and would cause distress to their friends and relatives if they were found on some "death-list". The very first name on the Danish list published the other day was a man 60 years of age, who was quite alive at home when the list came out.
posted by dabitch at 1:36 PM on January 4, 2005

Fenriq, is the deterrence effect demonstrable? I really don't know, but I was under the impression that, generally, it wasn't. But there are more than a couple people who have been exonerated years after they were put on death row, which is a very good argument for a long appeals process.

Runkelfinker, I'm not an expert on all of South and Southeast Asia, but I was under the impression that all of the countries in that region also had issues involving 'federal regulation', 'refurbishing the electric chair' (which I believe was a metonymy for the death penalty, practiced in several of the countries that are effect, I believe), 'sex education in early teens' (sex education has, I'm quite sure, been a priority in Thailand for quite some time, which led to a drastic reduction in HIV transmission, and in India it's becoming a bigger problem every day); so what would give you the impression that this was a derail?

Also, a map? I think everyone can point out Asia on a map. And by the way, Russia is not part of South Asia.

Not to be flippant, but I think that the examples we're talking about here can be applied to other places and nobody is intending to turn the conversation into one centering on the U.S.A.
posted by goodglovin77 at 1:36 PM on January 4, 2005

Killing child sex offenders leads to the Race Bannon method of morality-based law enforcement.

I wonder about the 'nothing to lose' factor with the death penalty. They talk about it as a deterrent, but if you're of the 'sick-fuck' ilk and know death awaits you in the justice system, why not take out that bus full of nuns just for the heck of it? Or execute all those hostages? Just make sure everyone pays before you get caught. The ultimate penalty does not necessarily mean less instances of crime; it means upping the ante of both punishment *and* crime.

Also: in regards to Asia, many of the trafficking rings in trans-national sex offences involve complicit action from government officials, so I wouldn't expect too much support for state-sponsored trafficker-head-shootings any time soon.
posted by cosmonik at 1:43 PM on January 4, 2005

goodglovin77, nope, its not demonstrable but my inclination is to put that down to the administration of the death penalty and not the death penalty itself. Andyes, that is based on nothing more than personal speculation.

And I know the argument that its better to let a hundred killers go free than execute one innocent. That's why I raised the reasonable doubt to beyond a doubt, maybe that should be beyond a shadow of a doubt?

I think the larger conversation is what is happening now, what can be done about it and how should the child traffickers, gang rapists and other criminals exploiting the circumstances in Asia.

On Preview: Cosmonik, I've heard the same exact thing applied to the three strikes law and its a good point. Nothing to lose anyway? Why not go out in big style and kill alot of people? And I think there's some truth to it. Damn.
posted by fenriq at 1:49 PM on January 4, 2005

fenriq, the danger with 'beyond a doubt' and other qualifiers for kill-o-matic sentencing is it's such a high evidentiary standard it will probably never be met. Even now, people are not charged when police have recorded the crime, due to mechanisms like the chain of custody and regulations on evidence handling.

(Also: do you really think it's a good idea to remove the word 'reasonable' from law? When reason is one of it's fundamental qualities? Unreasonable doubt: "the bacteria in his body colluded to bring about a hive-like mind which sequestered his physical being temporarily to commit murder on a rival bacterial collective." I really don't want that in my courts.)
posted by cosmonik at 2:05 PM on January 4, 2005

Just to put the Sun story in context, the Editor, Rebekah Wade, loves sensationalist stories about paedophiles.

While at the News of the World (the Sun's sister Sunday newspaper) she famously launched a 'name and shame' campaign against paedophiles with depressingly predictable results. The paper continued the campaign despite mounting protests. When the paper finally backed down. there had been riots and many innocent people had been attacked and abused.

Rebekah Wade appears to like using stories about paedophiles to sell newspapers, and it's dangerous to regard the Sun as a entirely trustworthy source of news due to it's long history of sensationalist tendencies. (I'm not saying any of the stories are false, but wanted to give some background on the paper for those who might not be familiar with it).
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 2:06 PM on January 4, 2005

goodglovin77, I know Russia is not in South Asia; whether carmina knew that her electric chair comment was metonymic is another question...

There's little in this thread that couldn't have been said before the tsunami last week, which I think is a shame. I also think it's a distraction to major on 'circle of abuse' or 'an eye for an eye' arguments - to my mind these are largely Western obsessions, and I'm not sure they add much of interest here.

There are interesting and relevant questions to be asked (for example, the Thai authorities crack down incredibly heavily on Muslim rebels and even methamphetamine dealers, but not on child abusers, why not?), but these aren't being asked or answered, at least not in this thread...
posted by runkelfinker at 2:23 PM on January 4, 2005

There's plenty of international multi-source coverage of this issue. I don't think it's all from the same poisoned stream flowing from Rebekah Wade.

Runkelfinker: Muslim rebels threaten sovereignty of Thai government. Methamphet dealers threaten sovereignty of Thai military-owned opium industry. Child abusers threaten nothing officials care about, and provide kickbacks in the form of money and sexual congress with minors.
posted by cosmonik at 2:32 PM on January 4, 2005

cosmonik, yes, beyond a doubt does elevate the requirements for conviction beyond a useful margin but I do feel that beyond reasonable doubt isn't strong enough to convict someone for the death penalty.

The arrest problems resulting in loophole mistrials are a serious problem but they are more symptom than sickness. Fix the system and the problems sort themselves out.

But I don't think you have to worry about unreasonable doubt anytime soon, though it might make for interesting tv.
posted by fenriq at 2:44 PM on January 4, 2005

cosmonik, another reason is that those Thai crackdowns are wholly domestic in their nature; on the other hand any thorough investigation or clamp-down on sex abuse anywhere in SE Asia would very rapidly involve foreign nationals (including no doubt some high profile ones), with all the trouble that would bring...
posted by runkelfinker at 2:49 PM on January 4, 2005

runkelfinker, you seem to be very sensitive about something that is entirely outside this discussion also. I am fully aware, and you should be too, what language I use and how I use it: thank you very much.

There's little in this thread that couldn't have been said before the tsunami last week, which I think is a shame.

Totally agree. But now it just came up, here. now. Maybe, we should talk more about it. It is not disrespectful, on the contrary.

Closer on topic, child-trafficking is a global issue. Because those kids are transported to other places (guess where? western countries mostly or where western visitors come often). Do you think Thai police can (even if it wanted to) catch those criminals all by itself without outside collaboration?
posted by carmina at 2:58 PM on January 4, 2005

There's plenty of international multi-source coverage of this issue. I don't think it's all from the same poisoned stream flowing from Rebekah Wade.

I'm not denying the existence of the issue at all cosminik, just clarifying the Sun's position (as it was used as one of the two news sources linked). Mefites unaware of the paper might have been wondering about it's slightly hysterical tone and strange use of caps for emphasis. Just wanted to point out it was gutter press*. Maybe I'm just a bit disappointed to see it linked to with regards to such a serious story.

*Which of course has its place
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 3:35 PM on January 4, 2005

Its part of the reason I backed it up with the BBC story. And FWIW, the reason I used the Sun story was because it had some of the most damning info I could find.
posted by fenriq at 4:27 PM on January 4, 2005

While it's natural to hate these people and consider the "ultimate punishment" for them, we have to remember the rational goal behind punishment- to stop crimes.

Will killing someone (even someone we feel really deserves it) do anything about the bigger problem? I believe carmina is right: being "tough on crime" simply doesn't work. Interestingly, both Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and the president of the ABA agree. We've tried "tough on crime" in the US for decades: it doesn't work.

These traffickers must be stopped, but putting bullets in their heads won't solve the larger problem of the demand for their "goods". Steady international effort is the only thing that will work on a global scale... maybe news like this will encourage such action.
posted by Maxson at 5:47 PM on January 4, 2005

Policy change takes time and you are losing crucial time in helping a very vulnerable population. Would putting a bullet in the head have a macro effect on policy? Possibly not but it sure has an immediate impact in the small scale.

Since these are "opportunists" why not make the opportunity a heavy price? I feel very muddled about this issue because it is so repugnant and the population the most vulernable. It is not inconceivable that you have children presumed dead and then become ghosts in the dark underworld of the sex trade shorn of everything - family, health, nationality, etc.
posted by jadepearl at 8:25 PM on January 4, 2005

jadepearl, that's precisely why the predators are descending, its like free kid day in Asia. And no, I don't mean that facetiously.

I think raising the "price" of getting caught is an excellent idea. But I don't think that's much of a surprise by this point.
posted by fenriq at 10:01 PM on January 4, 2005

Raising penalties "just for now" does not necessarily help in either the short-term or the long-term. In the short-term, the ability to actually catch the criminals would be more important than the ability to kill them- for example, if you only get 2% of criminals anyway, killing them doesn't stop a thing, and any deterrent factor will be lost since criminals won't believe they'll get caught anyway. In the long-term, reducing the penalty will be seen as going soft; meanwhile, nothing is done to improve actual effectiveness.

As much as I want to punish these people, it does nothing to save the innocent. Cooler heads must prevail.
posted by Maxson at 12:13 AM on January 5, 2005

There's plenty of international multi-source coverage of this issue. I don't think it's all from the same poisoned stream flowing from Rebekah Wade.

drill_here makes a good point. As does cosmonik.

The Sun really does have this disturbingly purient, urid, all-consuming fascination with child sex offences. Every single fucking time I pick up a copy on the train it's full of "BEAST lures tot to lair for PERVERTED SEX."

Of course child sex offences are wrong and of course it would be wrong to try and brush this issue under the carpet - in perhaps the way in which female perpetrated sex offences are - but does The Sun really need to wallow in this vile material all the fucking time?
posted by dmt at 7:09 AM on January 5, 2005

Boy 'not kidnapped' in Thailand (and BBC story) although at least Reuters reported that that Walker's Grandfather 'blamed the media for the confusion.' Certainly the Sun was quick to follow up with articles stating Walker was definitely kidnapped.

dmt, I suppose the Sun thinks it sells newspapers (and it does unfortunately). I've always found the salacious and titillating language I've seen it use sometimes when reporting on sex attacks and rapes to be nauseating.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 11:08 AM on January 5, 2005

The Nigerian bank scam has apparently been modified for use with the tsunami. I just got this e-mail:


The rest of the e-mail is the standard scam.
posted by trey at 5:54 PM on January 11, 2005

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