Concern for migrants grows as Malaysians exhume bodies from grave on Thai border
Malaysian authorities have begun the grim process of exhuming bodies found in a mass grave at an abandoned jungle camp used by human traffickers.
The authorities have said that there are 139 suspected graves in the mountainous jungle area where northern Malaysia borders southern Thailand. Police have predicted that there would be more ghastly discoveries as they explore the group of illicit hideouts.
Trafficking syndicates used the hideouts to hold migrants in the mountainous remote area before moving them on to other destinations. It is believed some of these migrants were held in human cages made of wood and barbed wire and officials believe they were only recently abandoned.
Most of the migrants are believed to be from the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and also Bangladesh’s impoverished migrants.
Khalid Abu Bakar, the Malaysian national police chief has stated his “shock at the cruelty”, confirming that there were signs that torture had been used.
The discovery of these hideouts follows the uncovering of similar graves along the Thai side of the border at the beginning of the month.
Following their discovery Thailand took strong action to close down routes traffickers had used to transport Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi migrants through its territory.
Following the closure of these routes, migrants wanting to reach Malaysia were instead being sent by sea, which prompted a major humanitarian crises with hundreds of migrants trapped on board dangersou craft in the sea without anywhere to land.
Indonesia and Malaysia have now stopped rejecting boats and have agreed to provide temporary shelter to the migrants, while Thailand has said it will stop towing boats away from it’s territory but would not take migrants in.
Thailand has stated that it will establish a floating naval base to help migrants following international pressure urging the country to offer more support.
The country has also stated that injured or sick migrants can be treated in Thai hospitals but will face illegal entry charges.
PICTURE: Indonesian Muslim protesters hold defaced posters of Myanmar’s radical Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu during a protest demanding an end to the violence against ethnic Rohingyas