PUTRAJAYA, April 25 — Human trafficking victims who fell prey to Thai syndicates were extorted of up to RM6,500 each to secure their release into Malaysia or risk being beaten to death, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the discovery of trafficking camps and gravesites found atop Wang Kelian heard today.
The former chief investigator at the Padang Besar district police Criminal Investigations Department, Inspector Mohd Husyairi Musa, revealed during today’s proceedings that victims who failed to pay the fee were beaten by hired camp guards, after which some succumbed to their wounds a week or two later.
“Their every movement was watched and if they did anything suspicious, they would be beaten and exiled to a smaller enclosure and made an example of to strike fear in others,” said Mohd Husyairi as he read out statements from several victims who managed to escape their captors.
“We stayed in the camps for about three-and-a-half months in the jungle, where at least 62 people died from the beatings and after eating unclean food compounded by the unsanitary conditions of the camps,” said one of the statements as read out by Mohd Husyairi.
“We were asked to bury the bodies of the victims in a space just a few metres from the camps where we stayed,” he explained to Conducting Officers Khairul Anuar Abd Halim and Saiful Hazmi Mohd Saad.
Mohd Husyairi said he obtained this information after recording the statements from three Myanmar victims who managed to flee into Malaysia after being held captive in the Thai camps.
The trio, who were later apprehended by local police, were made up of a husband-and-wife pair only identified as Noor Mohamad and Gulbalhal Hadi Rahmat, and a third person known as Hamidullah Hamid.
The officer then related how these Myanmar nationals had fled their country following civil conflict, where they were then packed into boats with a capacity of around 300 to 400 people by local agents there.
“It took 15 days for the boats to reach the coast of Thailand where they were transported by land to the trafficking camps and stayed there for several months until they are able to pay for their release,” he explained.
Mohd Husyairi detailed how the three victims he interviewed related to him how they managed to flee their camps in Thailand after an apparent raid by the Thai military in May 2015.
“They managed to escape from their enclosures during the raid, and walked through the jungle for three days before coming across a Thai man,” he said.
He said their statements detailed how the Thai national had told them they were already in Malaysia, and told them to catch a taxi to head further inland.
Today is the sixth day of public hearings for the RCI chaired by former chief justice Tun Arifin Zakaria and assisted by former inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Norian Mai, along with six others.