Mass grave discovered in trafficked migrants 'prison camp' on Thai border

Migrants are believed to be Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution

Rose Troup Buchanan
Saturday 02 May 2015 10:47 BST
Forensic teams examine one of the bodies
Forensic teams examine one of the bodies (AFP)

Thai police have found dozens of graves in what human rights organisations are claiming is a trafficking camp used to illegally smuggle migrants into the country.

At least 32 graves have been discovered by police in the “prison camp”, in the Sadao district of Songkhla province in the southern tip of Thailand, as well as a sick Bangladeshi man and a corpse lying nearby.

A number of the corpses have been exhumed but it remains unclear how they died, although Human Rights Watch alleges that many of the victims were starved to death or died from disease while being held by traffickers.

One of the bodies is carried out of the camp (AFP)

It is thought the majority of the bodies are Rohingya Muslims fleeing either Burma, also known as Myanmar where they face varying levels of persecution, or Bangladesh.

There is no sign of the traffickers, who are thought to have disappeared into the dense jungle with the survivor migrants on the arrival of police forces.

“Trafficking of persons in Thailand has long been out of control, something that senior officials have admitted to Human Rights Watch and others,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director.

“The finding of a mass grave at a trafficking camp sadly comes as little surprise,” he continued. Mr Adams added that HRW is calling for "an independent investigation with UN involvement".

Locals say that the camp was only discovered when villagers looking for mushrooms stumbled across it.

Thailand’s national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung described the site as a virtual “prison camp”, adding he believed the migrants were held in bamboo cages before being trafficked across the border into Malaysia.

"There are 32 places that look like graves and whether there is one body or several bodies in those graves, we will we have to wait and see," he told ABC.

The surviving Bangladeshi man is reportedly in a stable condition in a nearby hospital.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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