Andrew Drummond

Shocking British Channel 4 Investigation Shows Island Run By Gangsters



A shocking British Television Channel 4 documentary about the kidnapping, enslavery and extortion of Rohingya refugees disappeared from the net for a short period today so programme executives could conceal the identity of a man who may be placed in danger.

But it was easy to be forgiven for thinking that the Thai Government had blocked ‘Nightmare Island’ an investigation by John Sparks’s, C4’s Bureau Chief in Bangkok, which was a damning indictment on the goings on in Tarutao in southern Thailand.

Sparks nevertheless I feel will remember this particular investigation for a long time.  “It was eerie,” he said.

I cannot recommend his report highly enough. Its about a state within a state, where its alleged  police are paid to stay away and thus profit from the trade in humanity. and where scant regard is given to human life.

John Sparks follows the trail from beginning to end. It puts a big dent in the ‘we are a gentle people’ line trawled out frequently by state agencies in the region.

The Rohingya problem is today’s Burma’s (Myanmar’s) shame and to a certain extent also the world’s. People are not exactly taking to the streets in the west to protest.

The Rohingya are regarded as Muslim, which they are, and  ‘dirty brown’ by bigots who are ordinary everyday Buddhist Burmese who just do not want to live next door to one; the Alf Garnets of 21 Century ASEAN?

Aung San Suu Kyi is not campaigning on their behalf. Cynics say its because would be political suicide.

The report claimed that private prisons had been set up on the island and even government officials were told by their bosses to stay away. “Its the stuff of nightmares” reported Sparks.

His internet report begins:

“It seems like a lot of people in Thailand are frightened of Tarutao Island, writes Channel 4 News Asia Correspondent John Sparks.

When we asked locals whether they would take us there by boat, they were quick to say no – and that seemed very odd indeed.

It was strange, because Tarutao Island is an absolutely spectacular Thai national park.


“Surely,” I said, “you know what is going on”. Their response surprised us. For the first time in the park’s history, one ranger told me, the southern half of the island had been made out-of-bounds both to the public and park staff. The director of the national park had even closed down two ranger stations located on the southern shore I was told.

Situated 30km from the mainland in the sparkly blue waters of the Andaman Sea, the mountains of Tarutao dominate the surrounding area. It is cloaked in a rich layer of jungle and its beaches are white and hotel-free. 

It’s the sort of isolated spot that many people dream of spending time on.
Except Tarutao Island is also the stuff of nightmares. It took us weeks to find out why people were so frightened, but in the end it made perfect sense.

Local people and senior police officers, speaking off the record, told us the southern section of this beautiful island is gangster territory – the hood of human traffickers, who run a number of secret prisons from the jungle floor.

It is here that desperate migrants from neighbouring Burma are incarcerated, beaten and extorted – and risk being sold as slave labour to fishing fleets.

Rohingya exodus
Video and more at this link

Pick of the Day: Tony Blair and Koffi Annan ‘unofficially’ accept invitation to help with Thai reconciliation.
So if they have accepted unofficially why announce it? And would these ‘statesmen’ really accept the Thai buck? More to the point – how will the British react to Tony Blair’s ‘acceptance’ .  Follow this one.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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