PUTRAJAYA: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the discovery of mass graves in Wang Kelian was told that illegal immigrants who fled from the conflict zones in Myanmar were instructed to pay RM6,500 each for them to be able to enter Malaysia.
These illegal immigrants, who were placed in human-trafficking camps, were also tortured and beaten up by syndicate members when they failed to pay the sum to cross the border.
Some of them died due to unhygienic condition of the camp, consuming contaminated food while others died of torture.
The bodies were buried at the campsite by other human-trafficking victims.
Former Padang Besar Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief investigator Inspector Mohd Husyairi Musa said this was revealed when he conducted the interrogation for a case which involved the arrest of six illegal immigrants and a local taxi driver under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) Act.
“The arrest was made on May 2015, where six illegal immigrants were caught along with a local taxi driver, who was then charged as the ‘tekong’.
“One of the illegal immigrants, Nurmuhammad, said he left Myanmar to escape the conflict and took a boat with his wife and his two-year-old son to Thailand.
“He said they took 15 days to arrive in Thailand. They were then locked up in a camp until the payment of RM6,500 each was made for them to enter Malaysia,” Mohd Husyairi told the RCI.
Mohd Husyairi said Nurmuhammad also told him that each base had about 300 people, and each camp had 80 people in it.
These illegal immigrants were kept in the camp for more than three months and were beaten up when payment was not made.
Mohd Husyairi said Nurmuhammad claimed that they believed the camps were in Thailand as the guards spoke to each other in Thai.
The immigrants escaped when the camps were raided by the Thai authorities.
“Nurmuhammad said the guards immediately fled the camps when Thai authorities raided the place by land and also with a helicopter. He said the others who were locked in the camp broke the locks and fled.
“Nurmuhammad said he then wandered in the jungle with his wife and son for three days before he came across a Thai national, who then informed them that they were in Malaysia.
“It was only then they knew that they had already crossed the border. The Thai national then brought them down to meet the taxi driver,” said Mohd Husyairi.
Mohd Husyairi said among the six arrested, Nurmuhammad’s wife, Gulbahal Habi Rahmat, and their neighbour, Hamidullah also related the same experience during the interrogation.
When asked by the panel if the camps the illegal immigrants were placed in was in Malaysia, Mohd Husyairi said only Hamidullah was able to draw rough sketches of the camp he stayed in, and it did not match the pictures of the camps in Malaysia.
All the six illegal immigrants were charged under the Atipsom, then deported to Myanmar while the local taxi driver was charged under Section 26J of the Atipsom Act.
Mohd Husyairi is the 18th witness of the inquiry which is in its 6th day. The inquiry continues on May 7.