Thai PM General Prayuth Chan-ocha. (Foto: Chiangrai Times file)
Thai PM General Prayuth Chan-ocha. (Foto: Chiangrai Times file)

Bangkok, 14 Rajab 1436/3 May 2015 (MINA) – Thailand’s junta chief-cum-prime minister has promised to spare no effort in finding the culprits behind a human trafficking camp in southern Thailand that contained the graves of around 26 people.

Deputy-government spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Sunday that Prayuth Chan-ocha has stated that anyone proved to be involved will be punished.

“If they are state officials, they will get severe penalties, both criminal and disciplinary,” Kaewkamnerd said, according to The Nation newspaper, Anadolu Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

“Bad people and crooks who exploit other humans should have no place to stand in Thai society,” he added.

Late Saturday, teams finished searching the area around the camp on a hill just 300 meters north of the Malaysian border, having exhumed a total of 26 bodies from 32 graves.

Most – Muslim Rohingya from western Myanmar and Bangladeshis  – were in an advanced state of decay, implying that they had been buried for months.

Songkla Police Colonel Trivit Sriprapa told The Anadolu Agency on Sunday that 20 of the corpses had already been examined, and “no injuries or traces of beatings were found.”

He added that forensics was continuing to examine the remaining six, which had been transported to a local hospital.

One man was found emaciated, but still alive. He has told website Phuketwan most people held in the camp were “beaten or abused.”

“We were never able to get enough food or water. Showering seldom happened,” he added.

Thailand’s police chief, General Somyot Punpanmuang, has described the camp as “a virtual prison,” where hundreds of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants — determined to go to Malaysia in search of work — were imprisoned by the human smugglers until families back home could pay ransoms for their release.

On Sunday, Phuketwan quoted a “reliable source” as saying that there was a second human trafficking camp not far from the one raided Friday.

“There could be more than 50 graves in the second camp, and there are other camps with smaller numbers of buried bodies scattered near the border,” said the source who did not wish to be named.

Villagers in southern Thailand are “either benefitting from the horrendous trade in people, or turning a blind eye to it,” claimed Phuketwan.

Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project — which has closely followed the Rohingya situation for over a decade — told AA on Sunday that “many villagers living around the camps seem to know of their existence.”

She said her information had been received from those who had formerly been detained there. (T/P001/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)