Hillside death camp in the middle of nowhere

Hillside death camp in the middle of nowhere
A policeman watches over abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia May 26, 2015.

WANG KELIAN - It is a location so remote that cries for help would never be heard.

At this one campsite out of 28 that media personnel were brought to visit yesterday stood three guard towers, ringed by barbed wire and wire mesh.

A wooden cage and hundreds of plastic plates were found nearby.

It was like a scene from a PoW camp scene in a Vietnam war movie - a hidden detention camp on slightly flat terrain with a watch area on elevated ground.

This was where at least 100 trafficked victims once lived in captivity, deep in a hilly jungle 500m away from the Thai border in Perlis.

It was obvious the site had been abandoned for a few months.

Nails on the wooden pillars of the house were rusty, thin plastic canvases used as a roof were torn and faded from rain and sun, and rubbish left by smugglers at the watch area were slightly buried.

An adult skeletal lower jaw with nine teeth intact was found in one of the mass graves about 50m away from the camp.

For a healthy person, it was a steep hike of 90 minutes. For malnourished victims including children, it would have been hellish.

And it was not surprising if they did not survive the journey to the camp.

There was no smell of decomposed bodies.

No one would have known the hilly area about the size of two badminton courts were the graves.

The body exhumed was in one piece wrapped in white cloth, in accordance to Islamic law and buried with the head in the kiblat direction.

There were pieces of burned carpet on the bamboo floor of the camp, indicating it could have been a prayer area.

The only structure intact was a wooden cage with wire mesh, big enough to fit a bear, with a blue plastic bath basin on top of it.

This was most likely the public bathroom located beside two four feet deep square holes filled with hundreds of plastic plates and a large aluminium pot.

The camp was destroyed on purpose with a few tall trees around the area felled directly on the main structure of the camp.

Machinery was definitely used. The edges of the sawn trees were clean and smooth, so were the bamboo used to hang clothes.

The next camp was about 500m away but in a Malaysian jungle, everywhere looked the same. There was no clear escape route.

Walking in the torn down camp was like treading on iron thorns. There were rusty barbed wire and protruding nails all over.

Even if anyone had escaped the camp, the routes out to the roads were challenging.

Two days ago, a policeman was injured when he fell on his way down the hill.

This was not the largest site found, according to the policemen who escorted the media personnel. But they described this as the one closest to the mass graves which could be the centre for dumping bodies from the camps.

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