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The seven-year-old shows his hand, infected in a secret jungle camp

Secret Jungle Camp Raided: Women and Children Revealed as Traffickers' Victims

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
PHUKET: Volunteers who raided a human trafficker's secret jungle camp in southern Thailand in search of two rapists failed to catch their targets but found evidence of the harsh treatment of children and other captives.

Ten people, including six children, have been taken into care as a result of the raid. About 300 others in the camp, close to Thailand's border with Malaysia, fled as their trafficker-guards deserted them to escape the raiders.

Three men, who struggled to move, are now being treated in a hospital in the town of Sadao. A woman and six children are being sheltered in a safe house.

The woman, shown a graphic video of a rape that allegedly took place in the camp, said that the female victim was a friend and confirmed she had been in the camp.

The friend, who was single, had been raped ''many times'' and had since been sold as a wife, the woman said. She also identified the two rapists.

Other women in the camp had been raped. Captives sometimes died because conditions in the jungle were so primitive, she said.

The woman has three sons aged seven, five and eight months.

She told her rescuers that the family fled the violence against Rohingya Muslims that erupted in 2012 and her husband died in a UN refugee camp in 2013.

She was pregnant at the time of her husband's death and could not work. The food supply was miserable.

Soon after giving birth, she joined about 600 others on a boat, with all three sons. They were trucked from coastal Thailand to the secret camp.

All three boys are in poor health after spending seven months as captives of the traffickers, rescuers told Phuketwan.

Skin diseases have been triggered because the camps are in the open, with earth as flooring. The eldest boy showed two badly infected hands and lesions on his body and legs.

The woman said she had no relatives capable of paying the ransom demanded by the traffickers in exchange for their captives, which is why she and her children had been in the camp for seven months.

She had not been beaten or abused because she had a reputation as a herbalist, she said.

At one stage, she said, some of the guards in the jungle camp had taken her with them to visit a more important trafficker and to treat his cancer, she said.

The video of the rape is the first visual evidence of the brutality inside the jungle camps that survivors, rescued from the camps, have previously described.

Activists hope that eventually, the traffickers can be arrested and charged as a result of Saturday's raid on the jungle camp.

Thousands of Rohingya are reported to have fled Burma - also known as Myanmar - by boat in the past fortnight.

Observers are puzzled as to whether some have already been deposited in secret in Thailand or are perhaps taking a more direct route to Malaysia.


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