Border camp horrors revealed, official arrested (UPDATED)

Border camp horrors revealed, official arrested (UPDATED)

The former president of the Rohingya Association of Thailand says the camp and graveyard found in Songkhla is just the tip of the iceberg. He estimates there are at least 60 such camps in the Malaysian border area. Meanwhile a local official has been arrested.

Please join us on our Facebook page

Monday updates

Arrest in in Rohingya graveyard case

Online reporters

Police have arrested a local tambon municipal councillor and are looking for five other people allegedly involved in the deaths of many Rohingya people found buried in Songkhla province.

National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang said on Monday the arrested suspect was a municipal councillor of tambon Padang Besar in Songkhla's Sadao district.

The suspect is one of three people facing arrest warrants. Police were seeking warrants for the arrest of three more suspects, including government officials, Pol Gen Somyot said.

"The prime minister (Prayut Chan-o-cha) just phoned me again and ordered me to be there to follow up the case. All people involved will be arrested and no one will be spared. This issue is causing a great problem to the nation," the national police chief said before his flight to Songkhla on Monday morning.

Muslims in the South have arranged coffins and a mass funeral at Hat Yai district for 20 of the 26 remains recovered from the mass grave discovered last Friday in nearby Sa Dao district of Songkhla province in the South. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA

Detention camp horrors grow

Trafficking problem huge, Rohingya say


Thousands of Rohingya people who are possibly victims of human trafficking are being kept in at least 60 detention camps scattered throughout mountains along the Thai-Malaysian border, says a former president of the Rohingya Association of Thailand.

"The discovery of the detention camp [last Friday at Ban Taloh in tambon Padang Besar of Songkhla's Sadao district] is just the tip of the iceberg. Currently there are at least 60 detention camps along the Thai-Malaysian border," Abdul Kalam told the Bangkok Post Sunday, adding that about 150-800 refugees are being held in each camp.

Most of the camps are situated on the Malaysian side, he said.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaichinda, deputy national police chief, assigned by national police chief Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang to lead a human trafficking investigation in the South, said he will meet investigators in Hat Yai district of Songkhla today to verify the number of camps in the area.

"According to the information I have obtained there are many detention camps along the Thai-Malaysian border," Pol Gen Chakthip said.

Lt-Gen Prakarn Chonlayuth, commander of the 4th Army Region, said he will ask Malaysia to conduct more patrols along the border to suppress human trafficking.

Meanwhile, Mr Kalam attended the burial ceremony of 20 of the 26 bodies recovered from graves in tambon Padang Besar of Songkhla's Sadao district.

The burial was held at a Muslim cemetery in Hat Yai district.

The bodies of the others are being kept at Songklanagarind Hospital in Hat Yai district for autopsies.

Mr Kalam said he knew of the detention camps from two Rohingya compatriots, whom he helped to escape from a human trafficking network after they fled a detention camp last month.

The men, aged 23 and 30, were lured into a human trafficking network from their homes in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

When they arrived in Thailand a few years ago, they were brought to a detention camp in tambon Padang Besar of Songkhla's Sadao district.

The men said that they were beaten by members of a human trafficking network and forced to work under slave conditions while waiting for ransom money to come in from their relatives in Myanmar.

The governments of Thailand and Malaysia need to work together to solve the problem and take legal action against all those involved, regardless of whether they are state officials or civilians, Mr Kalam said.

He played a recording of the voice of 28-year-old Tunusar, a survivor of a death camp for human trafficking victims in the jungle in Songkhla.

He interviewed Mr Tunusar, who was bed-ridden at Padang Besar hospital in Sadao district, on Saturday.

Mr Tunusar was held captive at the camp for nine months after being kidnapped from his hometown in Bangladesh and brought by boat to a jungle camp in Thailand.

"I saw at least 40 people die while I was staying at the camp. Ten were Bangladeshis and the others were from Myanmar or Rohingya. They died because of malnutrition, starvation or being beaten to death," Mr Tunusar said on the clip.

"I want to go home to Bangladesh," he said.

The brokers controlling the camp were men named Hayi, Amartali, Arnua, Saw Lim, Rana and Heidra, he said. He was beaten many times after the brokers called his mother in Bangladesh and learned she didn't have the money to pay his ransom.

Another Rohingya man who was previously jailed at the camp, who wishes not to be named, recounted the horrors he saw to police Sunday.

He said a Rohingya man named Kasim was killed by Mr Arnua, a well-known Rohingya trafficking broker, at the camp.

Mr Arnua used a heavy stick to beat Kasim, the nephew of a Rohingya man named Kuramia, to death.

Nakhon Si Thammarat police said Mr Arnua had abducted Kasim and demanded a 95,000-baht ransom, but the nephew was not freed after the money was sent.

Mr Arnua then demanded another 120,000 baht, prompting Mr Kuramia to go to the police, which prompted Mr Arnua to kill the nephew, they said.

Police arrested Mr Arnua in Muang district on Wednesday and charged him with fraud and kidnapping. They are gathering evidence to prosecute him for human trafficking.

Mr Kuramia had feared his nephew was killed and buried in tambon Padang Besar in Songkhla's Sadao district, which led to the police's discovery of the graves on Friday, police said.

The witness also told reporters that his mother in Myanmar paid ransom money of 6,000 Malaysian ringgit (55,250 baht) to free him from the camp prior to its discovery by authorities.

While in the camp, the witness heard news of more than 500 deaths in similar camps along the Thai-Malaysian border.

Sunday morning update

Rescue workers and forensic officials dig out a skeleton from a shallow grave covered by bamboo at the site of a mass grave at an abandoned jungle camp in the Sadao district of Thailand's southern Songkhla province bordering Malaysia on May 2, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Jerome TAYLOR

Death camp 'held 800 refugees'

Two teenagers found in remote jungle near the site of a mass grave in Songkhla province yesterday revealed that at least 800 refugees were being held in the camp prior to its discovery by authorities.

The two youths, aged 14 and 17, said they had been held at the camp for eight months, and that the prisoners had been dispersed shortly before officers moved in on Friday.

It came as early reports began to emerge of the horrific conditions endured by prisoners being held at the remote border camp, where 26 bodies have now been recovered mostly from shallow graves.

“We were the people who could not pay the ransom so they kept us and did not really care whether we lived or died,” 28-year-old survivor Anuzar, who was found at the grave site on Friday, told news website Phuketwan.

“Most of us have been beaten or abused … In the camp, we were never able to get enough food or water. Showering seldom happened.”

Anuzar said he believed 10 Bangladeshis were among the dead scattered near the camp, along with at least 30 Rohingya.

“Eight brokers controlled the camp,” Anuzar said. “I knew three well — Ahmed Ali, Anwar and Sorim-Ida. Some are Rohingya, some are Malaysian.”

Saturday update

Digging has continued today. Here is the lastest from AFP

Thai forensics exhume 3 more skeletons

Padang Besar, Thailand, May 2, 2015, AFP – The badly decayed remains of at least three more migrants thought to be from Myanmar or Bangladesh were exhumed Saturday from a mass grave in southern Thailand, as details emerged of the maltreatment endured at the remote people smugglers' camp.

Thai forensic teams dug out the latest skeletons from shallow graves covered by bamboo and few of feet of dirt on Saturday afternoon, according to an AFP reporter at the abandoned jungle camp in Sadao district, in Songkhla province.

The badly decayed remains of at least three more migrants thought to be from Myanmar or Bangladesh were exhumed on May 2 from a mass grave in southern Thailand AFP PHOTO / Madaree TOHLALA

Authorities have found the remains of least eight people since Friday's grim discovery of the site, a find which has again laid bare Thailand's central role in a regional human trafficking trade.

Two survivors – men aged 25 and 35 – told doctors they had spent months at the camp despite falling sick and having little to eat.

"Both are malnourished, have scabies and lice," doctor Kwanwilai Chotpitchayanku told AFP at Padang Besar hospital.

"The older man could not walk, he had to be carried off the mountain. He hadn't eaten anything for two days before he was found. He told the translator he had a fever in the jungle for two months."

Doctors said the men had not been fully identified but were from either Bangladesh or Myanmar.

Both were rigged to IV drips and appeared frail as they lay in their ward beds.

Earlier story

At least 32 graves have been found and four bodies suspected to be of Rohingya migrants removed from an abandoned jungle camp in Padang Besar in Sadao district of Songkhla province. WICHAYANT BOONCHOTE

‘Rohingya’ graves found

Thai human trafficking record dealt fresh blow


At least 32 graves were discovered yesterday at what is thought to be a human-trafficking camp near the Malaysian border.

Four bodies exhumed from graves were suspected to be Rohingya Muslim refugees.

A team of more than 100 police and military officers, local officials, forensic officials and rescue workers examined the remote camp atop Khao Kaew mountain in tambon Padang Besar in Songkhla’s Sadao district.

It is only 300 metres from the northern Malaysian state of Perlis.

Located in the jungle on the mountain, the camp covers about two rai. Of the 39 structures built in the camp, 26 are sleeping quarters, and the rest are kitchens, bathrooms and an observation tower, police said.

Rescue workers and forensic officials inspect the site of a mass grave uncovered at an abandoned jungle camp in the Sadao district of Thailand's southern Songkhla province bordering Malaysia on May 1, 2015. The border area with Malaysia is notorious for its network of secret camps where smuggled migrants are held, usually against their will until relatives pay up hefty ransoms. AFP PHOTO

The camp is old and has been in use for a long time, according to police.

Authorities also found an area covering one rai about 50 metres from the camp.

The area was cleared of trees and used as a graveyard with about 30 old and new graves.

A search of the camp found a dead man identified as Kutansa who was believed to have been dead for a few days. Police also found an ill migrant and took him to Padang Besar hospital.

Forensic officers collected used clothes and other equipment left at the scene for evidence in any police investigation.

Rescue workers dug up five graves, but found only four bodies. Officers believe the bodies had been in the graves for several days as they were decaying.

Rescue workers carry a body uncovered at the site of a mass grave. AFP PHOTO

Digging was suspended until the appropriate authorities are sent in to verify the identity of all the bodies in the graves. The four bodies have been sent to Songklanagarind Hospital to be identified.

Pol Maj Gen Ekkaphob Prasitwatthanachai, deputy chief of the Provincial Police Region 9, said that at this stage authorities cannot tell how many bodies are buried in the more than 30 graves that have been found.

The Police General Hospital’s Institute of Forensics has been asked to send officials to help, Pol Maj Gen Ekkaphob said.

He said that maybe fatigue or illness could have caused the deaths while the suspected refugees stayed at the camp waiting to be sent to other countries.

Pol Maj Gen Thawatchai Pitaneelabutr, commander of the Immigration Division 6, said there are three human-trafficking groups involved in smuggling of Rohingya refugees in Songkhla.

The groups only smuggle in the refugees and put them in the camp temporarily before sending them to third countries, Pol Maj Gen Thawatchai said, adding that police already have information about the groups.

National police chief Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang said the discovery of the graveyard was made after a follow-up on the arrest of Rohingya refugees in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Jan 11.

He had received reports from Songkhla provincial police and soldiers of a number of graves at the remote camp. Pol Gen Somyot said the smugglers were believed to include Myanmar, Thai and Malaysian nationals, who take Rohingya migrants to the camp before moving them across the border.

He said the camp is so close to the border that authorities are trying to determine whether it actually resides on Thai or Malaysian soil.

The discovery has dealt a blow to Thailand’s human trafficking record.

Last year, Thailand was downgraded to the lowest tier on the US State Department’s influential Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which annually ranks countries by their efforts to combat trafficking.

The government forwarded its progress report to US authorities on March 31 to provide details about the country’s efforts to combat human trafficking with the hope that the US will upgrade the country to Tier 2.

Learn from listening

Click play to listen to audio for this story, or download to save the file
: :


  • abandoned (adj): left and no longer used - ร้าง, ที่ถูกละทิ้ง
  • abduct: to take somebody away illegally, especially using force - ลักพาตัว
  • abuse: to use or treat someone or something wrongly or badly, especially in a way that is to your own advantage - ใช้ในทางที่ผิด
  • against their will: forcing someone to do something that they do not want to do -
  • annually: happening every year - ทุกๆปีด
  • appropriate: suitable or right for a particular situation or purpose - ที่เหมาะสม
  • arrest: (of the police) taking someone to a police station because they are believed to have committed a crime - การจับกุม
  • arrest warrant: a document signed by a judge allowing police to arrest someone - หมายจับ
  • assign: to give a person a particular task or position - มอบหมาย, สั่งงาน
  • association: an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose - สมาคม
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • autopsy: a medical examination of a dead person’s body to find out why they died - การชันสูตรศพ
  • beat: to hit someone violently several times - ตี, เคาะ, หวด, ตบ, เฆี่ยน
  • bed-ridden: ill and unable to leave your bed - ป่วยอยู่บนเตียง
  • blow: an event that damages your chances of success - สิ่งที่ทำให้เกิดความเสียหาย
  • border: the official line separating two areas, regions or countries - เขตแดน อาณาเขต
  • bordering: very near, next to, or touching - ติดกัน
  • broker: a person who buys and sells things for other people - นายหน้า
  • burial: the act of putting a dead body into the ground, or the ceremony connected with this - การฝังศพ
  • buried (verb): covered completely by something - ฝัง
  • captive: kept as a prisoner or in a confined space - ไม่สามารถหนีได้
  • charge: to accuse someone officially of committing a crime - ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
  • civilian: someone who does not belong to the armed forces or the police - พลเรือน
  • coffin: a box in which a dead body is buried or cremated - โลงศพ
  • combat (verb): to try to stop something unpleasant or harmful from happening or increasing - ต่อต้าน
  • commander: a police offer of high rank - ผู้บังคับบัญชา
  • commander: the head of an army or army unit - ผู้บังคับบัญชา
  • conditions: the circumstances or situation in which people live, work or do things - เหตุการณ์, สภาพการ, สถานการณ์
  • conduct: to do something in an organised way; to carry out — - ลงมือทำ, ดำเนิน, ปฏิบัติ
  • councillor: a member of a local government council, parliament, etc. - สมาชิกสภา
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • dealt a blow: hurt or damaged by a bad event -
  • decay: when something becomes gradually damaged, worse or less - การเสื่อมลง
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • details: small facts or pieces of information relating to a situation - รายละเอียด
  • detention (noun): the condition of being forced officially to stay in a place - การกักตัว
  • discovery: an act or the process of finding somebody/something, or learning about something that was not known about before - การค้นพบ
  • disperse: to scatter or move away over a large area, ot to make something do this - ทำให้กระจัดกระจาย
  • downgrade: to reduce someone or something to a lower rank or position, to reduce the strength of something - ลดความสำคัญ, ลดความรุนแรง
  • drip: a piece of equipment or the process that passes liquid food, medicine or blood very slowly through a tube into a patient's vein - การหยดยาเข้าหลอดเลือด
  • effort: an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม
  • emerge: to become known - เป็นที่ประจักษ์ต่อ
  • endure: to suffer something difficult or unpleasant in a patient way over a long period of time - อดทนเพื่อให้ผ่านเวลาหรือเหตุการณ์ที่เลวร้าย
  • evidence: facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน
  • examine: to look at somebody/something closely, to see if there is anything wrong or to find the cause of a problem - ตรวจ
  • exhume: to remove a dead body from the ground especially in order to examine how the person die - ขุดศพขึ้นมา, ขุดขึ้นจากหลุม
  • fatigue: extreme physical tiredness usually because of exertion or illness - ความเหนื่อยล้า
  • fever: an abnormally high body temperature - ไข้
  • fled (past of flee): escaped; left an area very quickly because of a danger there - หนีไป
  • forensic: relating to the use of scientific methods to solve  crimes or to find out why something happened - เกี่ยวกับนิติวิทยาศาสตร์
  • forensics: scientific methods used to solve crimes and find out who committed them - นิติวิทยาศาสตร์
  • forward: to send onwards - ส่งต่อ
  • frail: physically weak and thin - อ่อนแอ
  • fraud: the crime of intentionally deceiving someone or cheating in order to gain an advantage or benefit - การฉ้อโกง การหลอกลวง เล่ห์เพทุบาย
  • funeral: a ceremony that takes place after someone dies - งานศพ
  • grave: a place in the ground where a dead person is buried - หลุมศพ, หลุมฝังศพ
  • graveyard: an area of land, often near a temple or church, where people are buried - สุสาน, ป่าช้า
  • hefty: large; expensive - หนัก,ใหญ่, แพง
  • horrific: so shocking that it upsets you - น่าขนลุก
  • horror: a strong feeling of shock or fear caused by something extremely unpleasant - ความหวาดกลัว, ความขยะแขยง
  • identified (verb): named, searched for a discovered - ระบุ
  • immigration: dealing with people entering and leaving the country - การตรวจคนเข้าเมือง
  • influential: of a person or group who has the power to affect a situation - มีอิทธิพล
  • investigation: the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - การสอบสวน, การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง
  • involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท
  • issue: a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น
  • kidnap: to illegally take someone away and make them a prisoner - ลักพาตัว
  • lay bare (verb): to expose; to become open for people to see - เปิดเผยออกมา
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • located: where something is - ตั้งอยู่
  • malnourished (adj): in bad health because of a lack of food or a lack of the right type of food - สุขภาพไม่ดีเพราะทานอาหารไม่ถูกต้อง
  • malnutrition: physical weakness and bad health caused by having too little food, or too little of the types of food necessary for good health - ภาวะขาดสารอาหาร
  • maltreatment (noun): very cruel treatment of a person or an animal - การทารุณ,การปฏิบัติไม่ดี
  • mass grave: a large hole in the ground in which many corpses (dead bodies) have been buried together -
  • migrant: someone who travels to another place or country in order to find work (an immigrant is someone who comes to live in a country from another country) - ผู้อพยพ, คนงานต่างถิ่น
  • military officer: a person in the military with a high rank - นายทหาร , ผู้มีหน้าที่ในเรื่องการรบประจำกองทัพทหาร
  • municipal: of a town, city or district with its own local government - เทศบาล
  • national: a citizen of a particular country - ประชาชน
  • nephew: a son of your brother or sister, or a son of your husband’s or wife’s brother or sister - หลานชาย
  • network: a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย
  • notorious: famous for something bad - ซึ่งมีชื่อเสียงในทางไม่ดี
  • observation tower (noun): a tower on top of a tall building, or a separate building where people can go to see the good view - หอสังเกตการณ์, ที่สังเกตการณ์
  • obtain: to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult - ได้มา, ได้รับ
  • patrol: a group of people or vehicles that move around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime - หน่วยลาดตระเวน
  • prior to: before - ก่อนหน้า
  • prompting: causing - ก่อให้เกิด
  • prosecute: to officially accuse someone of a crime and to try to prove them guilty in a court of law - ดำเนินคดี ฟ้องร้อง ซักฟอก
  • quarters: rooms that are provided for people (monks, soldiers, workers, servants, etc.) to live in - ที่พักอาศัย
  • rai (noun): a unit for measuring land, equal to 2/5 of an acre or 1,600 square metres - ไร่ (2/5 เอเคอร์) (1600 ตารางเมตร)
  • rank: to put someone or something into a position according to their success, importance, size etc - จัดลำดับ
  • ransom: the amount of money that someone wants to be paid before they will let a person go or give back a valuable object - เงินค่าไถ่
  • recount: to describe how something happened; to tell a story - เล่า, บรรยาย
  • refugee: someone who leaves their country or living place, especially during a war or other threatening event - ผู้ลี้ภัย
  • regardless: despite; not being affected by something - โดยไม่คำนึงถึง
  • relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
  • remains: the body of a person or animal that has died - ซากศพ
  • remote: far away from other cities, towns, or people - ที่ห่างไกล 
  • remove (verb): to take something away - เอาออกจาก
  • reporter: someone whose job is to write articles or make broadcasts about events in the news - ผู้สื่อข่าว, นักข่าว
  • rescue worker: a person who save someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - ผู้ช่วยชีวิต
  • reside: to live in a particular place - อยู่อาศัย
  • rig (verb): to fit equipment somewhere - จัดเตรียมเครื่องมืออุปกรณ์
  • role: the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship - บทบาท
  • scabies (noun): a skin disease that causes itching and small red raised spots - โรคหิด
  • scattered: spread over a large area or time period - กระจัดกระจาย
  • scene: site; a place where something happens or happened - สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
  • shallow: not deep - ตื้น
  • site: a place where something happens or happened - สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
  • situated: located - ตั้งอยู่ที่
  • skeleton: the structure of bones that supports the body of a person or an animal - โครงกระดูก
  • slave: a person who is owned by other people; a person who is treated as a thing to be owned, personal property of another - ทาส, ผู้ทำงานหนักและได้ค่าแรงต่ำ
  • smuggle: to take things or people to or from a place secretly and often illegally - ลักลอบนำเข้า
  • soil: land owned by a country - พื้นดิน
  • solve (verb): to successfully deal with a problem or difficult situation; to find out who is responsible for a crime - แก้ปัญหา, คลี่คลาย, หาคำตอบ
  • spare: to prevent someone from having to experience something unpleasant - ละเว้น, งดเว้น, ยกโทษให้,อภัยโทษ
  • stage: a part of an activity or process or a period of development - ช่วง, ระยะ, ตอน
  • starvation (noun): the lack of something necessary to life, usually but not always food - ความกระหาย, การอด, การอดอาหาร
  • state: government - รัฐบาล
  • structure: something large such as a building or a bridge that is built from different parts - โครงสร้าง
  • suppress: to stop something illegal from happening - ปราบ, ปราบปราม
  • survivor: someone who still exists after an event that could have killed or destroyed them - ผู้รอดชีวิต
  • suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
  • suspected: thought to be something - เป็นที่สงสัย
  • suspend: to stop for a period of time - ยกเลิกชั่วคราว, ระงับชั่วคราว
  • temporarily: for a limited period of time - ชั่วคราว
  • tier (noun): a row or layer of something - ระดับชั้น
  • tip of the iceberg (idiom): only a small part of a much larger problem (You only see the top of an iceberg (ภูเขาน้ำแข็ง), but there is much more underneath the water) -
  • trafficking: dealing in illegal goods, like drugs, weapons or in illegally moving humans or animals from one place to another - การค้าสิ่งที่ผิดกฎหมาย
  • translator: a person who takes something that a person says or writes in one language and says it or writes it in another language - นักแปล, ผู้แปล
  • upgrade (verb): to give something a higher level of importance - ยกระดับ
  • verify: to prove that something is true, or to make certain that something is correct - พิสูจน์ว่าเป็นความจริง
  • victim: someone who has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a crime - เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
  • ward: a separate room or area in a hospital for people with the same type of medical condition - แผนกในโรงพยาบาลที่มีคนไข้ประเภทเดียวกัน
  • witness: a person who sees something happen or knows about something - ผู้ที่เห็นเหตุการณ์, พยาน

Do you like the content of this article?