‘These graves are believed to be a part of human trafficking activities’
Malaysian police have discovered mass graves in more than a dozen abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand, where Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar have been held.
“These graves are believed to be a part of human trafficking activities involving migrants,” Home Minister Zahid Hamidi told reporters.
He did not say how many bodies have been recovered.
The Malaysian newspaper The Star has reported that as many as 100 bodies were found at one camp.
Similar camps and dozens of remains were recovered in jungle camps across the border in Thailand earlier this month, where Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar had been held by traffickers until their families could pay for their freedom.
The migrants and refugees who have fallen victim to the traffickers are from Myanmar and Bangladesh, part of a wave of people who have fled their homeland in hopes of reaching countries like Malaysia where they hope to find work.
More than 3,600 people – about half of them from Bangladesh and the others minority Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar – have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since May 10, and thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea, some in boats abandoned by traffickers amid a regional crackdown.
Mr Hamidi told reporters that police were trying to identify and verify “the mass graves that were found”.
Police have found 17 abandoned camps that they believe were used by traffickers.
Authorities say they have known for years that the area on the Thai-Malaysia border was used to smuggle Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, as well as Bangladeshis and other migrants, to third countries including Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim.
The graves discovered in Thailand earlier this month were mostly in southern Songkla province.