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Tales of modern slavery from Rohingya who survived death camps

By Michael Murty
The Rakyat Post
June 11, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR -- The Rakyat Post met several Rohingya victims of the death camps in Perlis and Thailand who managed to secure their freedom from their captives.

The men, women and many children, were crammed into a small shophouse in Jalan Bukit Kemuning, Selayang, but were in good spirits.

One of the death camp victims, Aminah Khatu, 27, said she left Myanmar because of the ongoing fighting there.

“Before I left, they started burning down our homes. People kept saying ‘go to Malaysia, there people live happily’. This is why I got on the boat.

“I got on a small boat for a few days before being transferred to a ferry where we were left at sea for two months. Later on, we were transferred into a small boat to reach Thailand.

“I was in the Thailand jungles for a month.”

She said the conditions in the camp in the jungle were terrible and the ground they were placed on was always watery.

“My children felt sick and one of them passed away there after he fell ill.

“I called my husband who was in KL at that time and told him that one of our children had passed away so he must get us out of the camp quick.”

She said her husband told her that he did not have money to do so immediately.

“My husband told me he did not have enough money, but he later managed to gather RM5,000 by borrowing it from his friends.

“I passed the money to the agent and he took it, but he still refused to let us go. He cheated us and we remained in the camp for another 15 days.

“After that, my husband had to find another RM6,000 and paid that sum to them before they released us.”

She said her experience at the camp was horrible and they fed them very little.

“We had nothing there. They fed us a little rice and curry and a little jelly.

“When someone died, they just threw the body in the jungle. Those who were very sickly were also thrown into the jungle to die.”

She hoped that help will find them now that they are in Kuala Lumpur.

“I hope we can get some help because we have nothing at all and I can’t even feed my kids.”

Rohingya children in Malaysia looking for a better future. — TRP pic by Arif Kartono

Aminah reached Malaysia with only 4 children after losing one of her sons (7 years), who passed away at the camp in Thailand. She is now with her two daughters (6 and 2 years) and two sons (5 and 4 years).

Khleta Bahasir, 23, who was one of the victims that stayed at the death camps in Thailand and Malaysia, said she got out of Myanmar by boat. After three days, she was transferred to a ferry.

The journey on the ferry lasted a month and after that she was transferred to another small boat. After three days, she reached Thailand where she had to go on foot.

“After I reached Thailand, they made us get on another small ferry and was later given to the agents (traffickers) and brought to the jungle.

“I was in the jungle for three months and I was placed in a camp on a hill for 7 days. I do not know where I was and which part of Malaysia I was brought to later,” she said while her children sat with her.

She said when she was placed in the camps in Thailand, the “agent” beat her up and made her starve because they wanted money from her.

“These camps had basic facilities and they just buried those who died in holes near us.

“They asked me to ask my family back in my village for money. My husband was with me at that time, but later they separated us and now I do not know where he is.

“I pleaded with them and I told them I did not have money. They made me ask the people at my village for help.

“I eventually paid them RM7,500 for my freedom after the people at my village sent me the money.”

She hoped that they would get some pity from Malaysians and get some help.

“I do not have a place to stay and I need to feed my children. I do not have my husband with me any more as I do not know where he is or what happened to him after they separated us at this camp.”

Khleta is staying at the temporary shelter with her two children, a son (5 years) and daughter (1 year 6 months).

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Rohingya Exodus