1.1 C
New York

Thai hostage elated to be back with family – and says Hamas ‘looked after us’ | World News

Published:

At Bangkok International Airport, 17 Thai nationals touched down after two months in captivity.

Some wearing sunglasses, perhaps to hide their emotions, those whose eyes you could see looked subdued, exhausted, relieved and bewildered.

Among them was Nuttawaree ‘Yo’ Munkan – the only woman in the group.

Israel-Gaza latest: Ceasefire deal enters final hours

A week ago, I spoke to her mother, Boonyarin. She wept as she talked about her “indescribable sadness”, yearning for news of her daughter being held in Gaza.

This time, I saw her face full of joy as she waited for her daughter on the final stop of her journey home to Khon Kaen.

Yo came home to northeastern Thailand with her boyfriend, 45-year-old Boonthom Phankhon.

Yo told me: “We were captured together, but then we were kept separately. I didn’t know where he was.” She only discovered he’d survived when she was released.

I asked them what conditions they faced.

“They gave us food and water once a day. They treated us well,” Boonthom said.

But Yo said there were limits to what they could say about their time in Gaza: “I was asked not to talk about it,” she told us.

And it was clear she carried the weight of her experience. “There are still the images that stick in my head,” she said.

Yo, like so many in the rural heartland of northeastern Thailand, went to Israel to earn money for her family. She hasn’t been back for more than four years.

At the home her money helped build, she was greeted by elated relatives.

“I’m very happy. Very, very, happy that I am coming home finally,” she said.

Despite her traumatic capture, she was nuanced in what she said about Hamas.

‘I thank myself everyday for getting through it’

“In Hamas – there are both good people and bad people. The good treated me well, gave me food, so I could survive. They looked after us.

“But there are also the bad people that put me in that situation.”

That situation, she says, was being held with two friends who were also Thai nationals. Her boyfriend said he was held with six other Thais.

There have been some media reports the Thai hostages were treated more compassionately than the Israelis, but Yo and her boyfriend said they didn’t see this.

The reality is, few had eyes on anyone else – trapped in a place they had no ability to escape, as a war raged around them.

“I thank myself everyday for getting through it, my body, my strength, everyday,” says Yo.

Despite what she’s endured, the details of which may take a very long time for her to share, Yo adores Israel and wants to return.

“I want to go back,” she says.

“If there is a chance, I would. I don’t want to think about the situation, but I love everybody there.”

Related articles

Recent articles

spot_img