Malaysia finds 139 graves, 28 “detention” camps
Police in Malaysia have announced the discovery of 139 grave sites and 28 “detention” camps amid the worsening migrant crisis in the region.
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar made the comments to reporters on Monday in the northern town of Wang Kelian near the Thai border, a day after the authorities said several mass graves believed to contain bodies of migrants had been found in the country’s north.
He added that officials are exhuming the remains and it is still unclear how many bodies may lie in the pits.
“[Authorities] found 139 suspected graves. They are not sure how many bodies are inside each grave,” Khalid said, noting, “They also found 28 detention camps.”
He went on to say that the largest of the camps could house as many as 300 people, another has a capacity of 100, while the rest could keep about 20 people each.
In early May, Thai police also announced the discovery of five secret human-trafficking camps on their side of the border and dozens of shallow graves that contained 35 bodies.
According to anti-trafficking groups, the border region near Wang Kelian acts as a major transit point on a route that migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar use to enter Malaysia and beyond.
Boatloads of migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar’s oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority have recently been seeking to reach Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, with rights groups warning that thousands more may still be stranded at sea.
The government in Myanmar refuses to recognize the Rohingya minority group as its citizens and insists they are “illegal” immigrants, even though they have lived in the country for centuries. The Rohingya Muslims face extensive discrimination and restrictions in Myanmar.