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Finally free

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Anatoliy Vdovychenko is free after what he says was 12 years of forced labour in a local factory. 

Anatoliy Vdovychenko says he was confined to a factory premises.

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Nightmare ends after 12 years

Ukrainian engineer Anatoliy Vdovychenko says his nightmare began about two years after he arrived in Bangkok to work for an oxygen factory in 1996.

After suffering burns in an accident in July 1996 and being unable to return home, he was verbally offered a work agreement by a Thai factory owner.  He was promised a 30,000 baht monthly salary, plus a car and other expenses, including medical expenses.

The factory owner, he said, planned to build a new oxygen factory and his job was to maintain two oxygen systems. He said he only received a full salary for the first three months. By the end of 1998 he made a demand on his employer for 600,000 baht in outstanding pay.

After that, the owner stopped paying him and confiscated his passport when Mr Vdovychenko, now 57,  returned from a trip to Malaysia in 1998.

Over the next 12 years, he says he was only paid from ''time to time'', sometimes receiving 1,000 baht a week to buy food and nothing more.

Mr Vdovychenko told the Bangkok Post Sunday that he was under 24-hour guard and only allowed to leave the premises to buy food from a stall near the factory located at the Rangsit industrial complex.

Mr Vdovychenko said he survived with the help of Burmese migrant workers at the factory who brought him food and clothing.

He was finally rescued from the factory on Jan 11 after Ukrainian consular staff confronted the owner and threatened to call police.

Ukrainian consul Constantine Ivaschenko said they became involved in the case after a Burmese worker who had left the factory sent a letter to the engineer's family in Ukraine last November telling them of the engineer's fate.

''I thought I would be there forever,'' said Mr Vdovychenko, who is slender in appearance and seems emotionally unsettled by his ordeal. ''I thought I would die and nobody would know. My mind was closed and I was depressed.
Adapted from a story in Bangkok Post’s Sunday edition by Maxmilian Wechsler.

confined –  kept somewhere and not allowed to leave; detention ถูกกักตัว
premises – the buildings and land that a business or organisation uses ที่ดินและสิ่งปลูกสร้าง
nightmare – an extremely unpleasant event or experience or possible event or experience; a very upsetting or frightening dream ฝันร้าย
verbally – using words ทางคำพูด
salary – a fixed amount of money that you earn each month or year from your job เงินเดือน
maintain – to keep something in good condition by checking or repairing it regularly ซ่อมบำรุง
outstanding – not yet paid, done, solved, etc ค้างชำระ
confiscate – to take away ยึด
under guard – prevented from escaping (by a guard); protected from attack or danger (by a guard) ถูกคุ้มครอง
stall – a large table or a small building that is open at the front, used for selling things (or for giving people information) รถ หรือแผงขายของ
industrial complex – an area of land where industrial companies have their buildings นิคมอุตสาหกรรม
survive – to continue to live มีชีวิตรอด
migrant – someone who travels to another place or country in order to find ผู้อพยพ
rescue – to save someone form a dangerous or unpleasant situation ช่วยชีวิต
consular – involving government officials who represent their country in a foreign city เกี่ยวกับกงสุล
confront – to face, meet or deal with a difficult person, group or situation เผชิญหน้า
threaten – to say you might or will do something bad or harmful, especially in order to make someone do something ขู่
involved – taking part or having a role in something เกี่ยวข้อง
fate – the things that happen or will happen to someone ชะตากรรม
forever – for all time in the future, or for as long as you can imagine ตลอดไป
slender – thin ผอม
appearance – the way that somebody/something looks on the outside; what somebody/something seems to be  รูปร่างหน้าตา, ลักษณะภายนอก,  ภาพลักษณ์
unsettled – changing; not stable ไม่สงบ, ไม่มั่นคง
ordeal – an extremely unpleasant experience, especially one that lasts for a long time ประสบการณ์ที่แสนสาหัส
depressed – very sad and without hope เศร้าสลด, ห่อเหี่ยว

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