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Malaysia finds 30 mass graves of trafficking victims from Myanmar and Bangladesh
Monday | 25/05/2015 - 08:18 AM
Malaysia finds 30 mass graves of trafficking victims from Myanmar and Bangladesh
A Rohingya migrant who arrived in Indonesia this week by boat looks out the window of a temporary shelter in Aceh Timur regency, near Langsa in Indonesia's Aceh Province yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Rohingya News Agency - Agencies 

Mass graves and suspected human-trafficking detention camps have been discovered by Malaysian police in towns and villages bordering Thailand, the country's home minister said yesterday.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said officials are determining whether the graves were of human-trafficking victims, but did not say how many bodies were discovered.

"This is still under investigation," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Kuala Lumpur.

The home ministry has confirmed the shocking discovery of a mass grave near 17 human trafficking detention camps in Padang Besar.

The camps have been here for awhile, said the home minister. “Maybe even five-years. I am shocked!”

The grave and camps, in Wang Kelian and several small villages along the border town of Padang Besar, were discovered by VAT69 and General Operations Force (GOF) officers last week.

The camps were abandoned as officers got there.


An Indonesian doctor on Tuesday attends to three-year-old Shahira Bibi, a severely malnourished Rohingya girl as she lies unconscious at the hospital in Langsa in Aceh. Photo: AFP

“The Inspector-General of Police and the deputy IGP are there now for the identification and verification process.

“One grave maybe has three, four bodies. But we don't know how many are there. We are probably going to find more bodies,” Dr Ahmad Zahid said.

He said the public would be updated as soon as fresh information is available.

Dr Ahmad Zahid added that discovery left little doubt that Malaysians were involved. “Malaysia as a government is not involved. But Malaysians, yes! I recognise that as a fact.

“But you know, in Mexico and the United States, they have more intelligence and state-of-the-art border security but there is still human trafficking happening there,” he told reporters at the Kajang Prison during the ministry's “Family Day” celebration.

According to media reports, the mass graves were believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Police discovered 30 large graves containing the remains of hundreds of people in two places in the northern state of Perlis, which borders Thailand, the Utusan Malaysia newspaper reported.


Beneath the swaying banana trees, there is nothing but a few plants to mark the resting place of Shahira who died on Wednesday. She was rescued from a sinking vessel off Indonesia's western Aceh province. Photo: AFP

The Star newspaper of Malaysia reported on its website that nearly 100 bodies were found in one mass grave on Friday.

"I reckon it was a preliminary finding and eventually I think the number would be more than that," Zahid said when asked about reports of the number of mass graves discovered.

Zahid said the camps identified are in the areas of Klian Intan and villages near the border.

"They have been there for quite some time. I suspect the camps have been operating for at least five years."

A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the issue, saying a news conference would be held today, reports Reuters.

A police official who declined to be identified said police commandos and forensic experts from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, were at the site but it was unclear how many graves and bodies had been found.

Northern Malaysia is on a route for smugglers bringing people to Southeast Asia by boat from Myanmar -- mostly Myanmar's Rohingyas fleeing persecution and jobseekers people from Bangladesh.

Smugglers have also used southern Thailand, and police believe the discovery had a connection to mass graves found on the Thai side of the border this month.


Shahira's mother and sister rest at a confinement area in Langsa port .Photo: AFP

Twenty-six bodies were exhumed from a grave in Thailand's Songkhla province near a camp with suspected links to human trafficking.

DHAKA DISCUSSES WITH DIPLOMATS

Our diplomatic correspondent reports: The Bangladesh government has called out the envoys from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar for an emergency meeting at the foreign ministry today to discuss the ongoing migration crisis and ways to resolve it.

Concerned over the discovery of mass graves and rescue of Bengali speaking boatpeople off the coasts of the four countries, the foreign ministry called the envoys in Dhaka to know the latest situation and discuss a possible coordination with the countries for safety, security and safe return of boatpeople through proper verification of their citizenship.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque will chair the meeting at 3:00pm, which is expected to give guidelines and select team for a meeting in Thailand to be held on May 29.

Thailand is hosting the meeting of 15 countries to discuss ways to address the Southeast Asian trafficking crisis.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry has called an inter-ministerial meeting at noon to discuss the next course of action to stop the human trafficking.

Senior officials from the ministries of home, Relief, expatriates welfare, BGB and representatives of other security and law enforcing agencies will attend the meeting.

INDONESIA LAUNCHES SEARCH

Indonesia's military said Sunday following President Joko Widodo's order, a rescue operation for stranded migrant boats began Friday.

"We will save the migrants and take them to shore," military spokesman Fuad Basya told AFP, adding that as of late Saturday, no new boats had been sighted.

Previously, Indonesian fishermen have helped hundreds of stranded Bangladeshis and Rohingya to shore.

Widodo yesterday indicated that Jakarta would need international help to foot the bill for sheltering thousands of destitute people.






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