The Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) was presented with a special recognition and commendation by Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O’ Farrell of the 13th Council District in Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers on Friday, August 28th, 2015. Councilman O’ Farrell welcomed Thai CDC and survivors from the El Monte Thai Garment Slavery Case to Council Chambers for a formal presentation recognizing Thai CDC’s work to combat human trafficking and to conclude the month-long commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the case.
The City of LA commendation was signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti and all fifteen councilpersons and reads:
“In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the liberation of 72 Thai immigrant workers held in virtual slavery in an El Monte garment factory, the City of Los Angeles commends the Thai Community Development Center for its role in giving the workers a voice with which to reclaim their rights, dignity, and freedom and for 20 years of combating the growing problems of human trafficking, slavery, and debt peonage in our communities, establishing important precedents with landmark cases and championing the rights of victims for humane treatment and redress. You are truly an angel in the City of Angels!”
Councilman O’ Farrell paid a long tribute to Thai CDC and the survivors in his opening remarks commending the workers for transcending this incredible tragedy and Thai CDC for its selfless and tireless commitment as a champion of the workers and the human rights cause of wiping out slavery and trafficking as we know it. He expressed how honored he is that Thai CDC is part of the fabric of his 13th council district and recognizes that its influence spreads far beyond the City’s borders. Then Councilmen Mitch Englander, David Ryu and Marqueece Harris-Dawson commented on the bravery and courage of the survivors and commended Thai CDC and the survivors for their continued fight to liberate other workers from slavery so that this City can be free of slavery and exploitation.
Thai CDC Executive Director, Chanchanit Martorell, spoke thanking Councilman O’ Farrell and members of the City Council for the honor being bestowed on Thai CDC and the El Monte survivors but also reminded everyone that its work to fight this scourge on humanity known as human trafficking and modern-day slavery is far from over as these human rights violations continue unabated. Martorell also stated the importance of reclaiming this important part of Thai-American history for the Thai community by establishing a clear and fact-based narrative of the El Monte case which is complete and inclusive and focuses on the actual contributions of all its participants in the spirit of establishing a true “people’s history.”
And to conclude, El Monte survivor, Rotchana Sussman, passionately pled for assistance from all sectors in combating human trafficking and how as a survivor, she will do everything in her power to ensure her voice will always be heard in order to be a force for change.