It was just the two of them, brother and sister, out on the open ocean with hundreds of other desperate migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims fleeing their homes in Myanmar. For nearly three months, the siblings comforted each other when rolling waves thrashed their boat, when their empty bellies ached and when they were beaten for trying to stand up to stretch their legs.
As the oldest, Mohammad Aesop — just 10 years old — knew it was his job to keep his 8-year-old sister safe. But with the Thai crew wielding guns and threatening to throw troublemakers overboard, he felt helpless.
Theirs was the first boat to wash ashore in Indonesia two weeks ago, followed by a number of other wooden trawlers crammed with hungry, dehydrated people. Many were abandoned at sea by their captains following a regional crackdown on human trafficking networks.
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