139 bodies likely buried in migrant graves: Malaysia
Authorities in Malaysia estimate that 139 bodies are buried in the graves recently found by its forensic teams, which are believed to contain the the remains of migrants from Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim community.
Malaysia’s Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar confirmed on Thursday that each of the 139 grave sites contained the remains of one person.
“Based on the size of the graves, and after the area was cleared… we have a clearer indication, single grave, single person,” Jaafar said, adding, “The bodies were wrapped in white cloth. It is like the Muslim burial … some are shallow graves, not all.”
Around 28 human trafficking camps and 139 grave sites were found by the Malaysian police over the weekend in the northern state of Perlis, which borders Thailand.
Malaysian authorities had previously expressed fears that each of the grave sites could contain multiple corpses of trafficked migrants.
An abandoned migrant camp used by people-smugglers in a jungle at Bukit Wang Burma in the Malaysian northern state of Perlis, on May 26, 2015. (© AFP)
Sources say the dead are believed to be Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh, who either died of diseases or starved to death. Traffickers had abandoned the sick men when they were moving the Rohingya migrants across the border into Malaysia.
Meanwhile, police have launched a probe into the possibility that Malaysian officials, including some from the country’s Forestry Department, may have a hand in human smuggling.
Malaysian authorities say they are investigating at least a dozen police officers suspected of being linked to human trafficking.