Koh Kra: "Hell on Earth"

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Massacres at Sea: "Koh Kra island"

Ko Kra map

Koh Kra island in Google maps

Koh Kra, at latitude 11.82 (11° 49' 0 N) and longitude 102.38 (102° 22' 60 E), is a hypsographic (island) located in the area / state of Trat in Thailand.

The island is 438 kilometers southeast (144°) of the approximate center of Thailand and 295 kilometers southeast (137°) of the captial Bangkok.

Koh Kra is a deserted island in the gulf of Siam 80 kilometres from Nakhon Si Thammarat, 55 kilometers from the coastal town of Pak Panang.

Koh Kra is an uninhabited island of three and half square miles of rock and jungle, off the coast of southern Thailand. Thai fishermen used the island as a prison to hold Vietnamese refugees.

Ko Kra, located about 54 km from the nearest shore, consists of three islets: Ko Kra Yai, Ko Kra Klang and Ko Kra Lek, as well as one small rocky outcrop, Hin Ko Kra. The whole area surrounding these islets is a good diving spot owing to its relative remoteness.

KohKra island

Until spring of 1981, Thai fishermen hunted refugee women on that island. According to UNHCR, one female refugee was severely burned when southern Thai fishermen, attempting to flush her out, set fire to the hillside where she was hiding. Another cowered for days in a cave, waist deep in water, until crabs had torn the skin and much of the flesh away from her legs.

By Oct 1980, 160 refugees are known to have died on that island alone. The total no doubt was far higher before a detail of six or eight marines was stationed on the island in the spring of 1981 and halted the carnage.

On April 2012 we arrived to Kok Kra to install the plaque

The engraving on the plaque reads:

"In honor of the thousands of Vietnamese refugees who were marooned, abused, tortured, and even murdered here on Koh Kra island. May their suffering never be forgotten. With heartfelt thanks to Mr. Ted Schweitzer, who was instrumental in saving thousands of marooned refugees."

The UNHCR, which had the ultimate responsibility for supervising the refugee camps, reported that during a trip that should last 3 or 4 days, 80 percent of the refugees who survived had been attacked by fishermen an average of 3 to 4 times before reaching shore. Dr Mehlert’s CARE report concerning rape noted one case when a nine year old was raped, and several when eleven and twelve year old girls suffered gang rapes. Her research revealed that women 15-20 years of age faced a 60 percent chance of being raped, not once but up to 40, 50 or more times.

Roy Branson, the editor of SPECTRUM, holds graduate degrees from Harvard University and the University of Chicago. He spent time in Thailand investigating the plight of Indochinese refugees.

Please read for more details:

Courtesy of Roy Branson http://spectrummagazine.org/files/archive/archive11-15/12-3branson.pdf

The island has become a popular location for scuba diving and snorkeling.

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