Mass graves of 24 Muslim victims of human trafficking found in Malaysia

 

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Malaysian authorities have found mass graves containing the remains of approximately 24 people who are believed to be human trafficking victims.

According to The Star newspaper, the deceased are believed to have been of Rohingya, the ethnic group from Myanmar who currently face persecution, and Bangladeshi origin. They are suspected to have died of abuse and malnourishment.

"It was raining heavily recently and the downpour swept away the soil and revealed the remains. We don't know how long the victims were buried or if there was a transit camp there," National Security Council chairman Shahidan Kassim said, as quoted by the newspaper.

The heavily forested Thai-Malay border has become a transit point for smugglers bringing people to Southeast Asia by boat. The migrants are often held for ransom in detention camps and according to some accounts face torture and long periods of starvation.

Thai authorities have been cracking down on traffickers and in May drove them to abandon thousands of migrants on overcrowded boats in Southeast Asian waters. This triggered a regional humanitarian crisis that saw them land in Malaysia and Indonesia after being rescued by fishermen.

These discoveries of mass graves are not a first, as authorities in May said they found 139 suspected graves in abandoned jungle camps in the area. There were also similar revelations earlier this year, when police found 36 bodies from shallow graves in seven abandoned camps on the Thai side of the border.

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