The forgotten Asian tragic victims of the Siam – Burma Death Railway


Athi Shankar, Malaysia Outlook

The Death Railway Interest Group (DRIG) has embarked on a major plan to document the Malaysian survivors of the Siam – Burma Death Railway.

DRIG chairman P. Chandrasekaran said the organisation aimed to give a voice to the voiceless victims, and make a concerted effort to publicise their cause and create public awareness.

The infamous Siam-Burma railroad is made known by the Western-orientated reports as a killing field for the allied prisoners of war (POWs), who were forced to build, what later came to be known as, The Siam – Burma Death Railway.

However, according to Chandrasekaran, the world had virtually forgotten or was never even aware of the existence of over 270,000 Asian labourers forced to build the railway of death.

The Asian labourers, or known as the rōmusha, were from Burma Thailand, Indochina, Malaya and Indonesia.

“They far outnumbered the POWs, and their sufferings were no less, if not worse,” said the DRIG chairman.

In 1943, under pressure to complete the construction of the railway, the Japanese recruited at least 270,000 Asian labourers to supplement their workforce of about 63,000 POWs.