A Malaysian police forensic team excavates an unmarked grave in Wang Burma at the Malaysia-Thailand border outside Wang Kelian, Malaysia on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Malaysian forensic teams exhumed a body from a shallow grave at an abandoned camp on Tuesday that was used by human traffickers, the first of what police predicted would be more grim findings as they combed through a cluster of jungle camps on the border with Thailand. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

PETALING JAYA – Authorities had already known about the mass graves in Wang Kelian on the Malaysia-Thai border, but delayed announcing it until four months after they were first discovered, the New Straits Times reported today following a two-year investigation.

The daily also said police had cleared the campsite where the mass graves were discovered, destroying potential evidences at the crime scenes before they were processed by forensics personnel.

It added that the probe revealed that Wang Kelian may have been part of a “massive, coordinated cover up”.

In early May 2015, then inspector-general of police (IFP) Khalid Abu Bakar had announced the discovery of more than 130 graves in 28 temporary camps of a human trafficking syndicate in Wang Kelian.

This followed the discovery of similar graves in Thailand, which led Thai police to launch a massive crackdown on human trafficking networks.

But NST said the Malaysian police had already known about the mass graves at the campsite in a dense part of a jungle on the Thailand-Malaysian borders as early as January 2015.

Why did the police order the destruction of these camps, which were potential crime scenes, before they could be processed by forensics personnel?” the paper asked.

The remains of at least 100 foreigners, most of them believed to be Rohingya victims of human trafficking, were found in shallow unmarked graves in Wang Kelian in 2015. There were about 139 graves said to have been found, with some being empty, according to police at the time.

NST said a police report was filed on Jan 19, 2015 after two general operations force (GOF) men discovered “an observation post” in the middle of the jungle of the Wang Kelian State Park. They were joined by 30 others in a raiding party that followed a trail which led to a campsite, where they discovered the human trafficking racket.

“It was during this mission that the men discovered the first 30 graves. Jan 19, 2015 was when the Wang Kelian tragedy and the mass graves were discovered; not on May 25, as we were led to believe,” the report said.

NST said its investigation also took them to the campsite, and its journalists also interviewed countless personalities directly involved in the case.

“The team checked and re-checked the facts, sought corroborative witnesses and verified facts through multiple, independent sources, all to build an airtight case,” the report said.

It said after efforts to get the then police chief Khalid failed, its journalists finally cornered him, adding that he only agreed to speak on condition his comments would not be published.

“It took a while before he finally spoke. And when he did, his voice betrayed the enormity of what he was about to tell us,” the paper said.

“The NST Special Probes Team is bound by journalistic ethics in honouring the condition Khalid imposed, which was not to publish what he had told us.” –

MEANWHILE, in a statement issued by Ambiga Sreenevasan, Hakam calls for:


NST’s exclusive report on the secrets of Wang Kelian carried out by a courageous special team over two years is truly worthy of credit. Just as is The Malay Mail teamwho first broke the story on Wang Kelian. This is investigative journalism at its best because it serves the truth.

The NST report discloses the mismanagement and a possible cover-up by the authorities, in particular, the police over the investigation in respect of the discovery of human trafficking death camps. The NST report sheds light on the complicity or at the very least negligence if not incompetence of police officials. The reports states that there are corrupt public officials involved, indicating that organised crime continued to take place over an extensive time-frame that could not have been done without the aid of public officials.

Quoting from the report,

“During the course of this investigation, the team traced and interviewed countless personalities who were directly involved in what had been, and still is, the most horrific case of human trafficking, torture and mass killings to have occurred on our soil.”

After the Malay Mail exposé in 2015, HAKAM and the Malaysian Bar each submitted a memorandum to SUHAKAM urging that an independent inquiry be conducted into the discovery of the death camps, allegations of human trafficking, torture and mass killings. However, we were made to understand that SUHAKAM’s budget was dramatically reduced in 2015 and 2016, which made it difficult for them to employ resources to initiate an inquiry.

The deaths of hundreds would have gone unheeded / unexplained but for the publication of The Malay Mail and the NST’s brave and thorough journalisticinvestigations. HAKAM is also thankful to the sources who have chosen to do the right thing by speaking up and refusing to be part of this systematic cover-up.

These chilling news reports disclosed not just horrifying crimes against humanity that includes murder of innocent and defenceless human beings, but regrettably the seeming cover-up or mismanagement by those in authority thereafter. Such criminal acts are made possible by parasites within the system aiding in the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of innocent people including women and children.

Interestingly, in June 2015, the NST revealed a report by the Malaysian Special Branch (the Police’s own intelligence agency) that 80% of the nation’s security personnel and law enforcement officers at the Malaysian borders are corrupt. This report was revealed after The Malay Mail exposé was published.

In July this year, the Thai courts acted against Thai nationals involved and found 62 people out of 103 guilty for human trafficking including an army general, two
provincial politicians and several police officers. Shamefully, Malaysia has not held the culprits accountable for this heinous crimes save* for laying charges against 4
foreign nationals, one of whom has been convicted. 12 police officers were detained but later released (*as reported in the media).

Just as shamefully, despite this unacceptable state of affairs, the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 elevated Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2.

This turning of a blind eye to atrocities committed within tour borders must cease.

The time for action is now.

HAKAM therefore demands that the following questions raised by the NST team be answered and be answered promptly.

1. Why had the initial discovery of these death camps been kept a secret?
2. Who gave the orders to sanitise and destroy the crime scene, and why?
3. Why were the Perlis police, who knew of the existence of these jungle camps
in Wang Kelian, not held accountable for ignoring these victims?
HAKAM further demands that the government provides full disclosure on the
following matters:
1. The discovery of another camp in Bukit Genting Perah
2. Status of the suspects that were arrested during the snatch and grab mission
at Bukit Genting Perah; and
3. The follow-up action on the report on the Bukit Wang Burma death camps

Finally HAKAM calls upon SUHAKAM to inquire into the investigation by the NST and Malay Mail team and to commence a probe into this highly unacceptable state of affairs. Should the government fail to fund SUHAKAM in order to carry out the inquiry, HAKAM will engage with civil society members to raise the necessary funds from the people of Malaysia so that SUHAKAM may undertake this urgent and necessary probe.

Issued on behalf of HAKAM Executive Committee

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan