Malaysia buries Ro­hingya traf­fick­ing vic­tims

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Malaysian author­i­ties Mon­day gave a Mus­lim burial to 21 hu­man traf­fick­ing vic­tims, be­lieved to be Ro­hingya Mus­lim refugees, found in shal­low graves in jun­gles bor­der­ing Thai­land.

The 21 were among 106 bod­ies found last month in 28 jun­gle camps in north­ern Perlis state, a re­mote area bor­der­ing Thai­land that traf­fick­ing syn­di­cates used as a transit point to hold mi­grants and refugees. Most were be­lieved to be from Myan­mar’s per­se­cuted Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity and im­pov­er­ished mi­grants from Bangladesh.

The vic­tims were buried in a vil­lage cer­e­mony in neigh­bor­ing Kedah state, with Is­lamic of­fi­cials per­form­ing burial rites.

Kedah Chief Min­is­ter Mukhriz Ma­hathir said in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed the vic­tims died of star­va­tion and ill­ness.

The bod­ies of 19 men were placed in sim­ple wooden coffins each and buried to­gether in a huge grave, while the bod­ies of two women were laid to rest in an ad­ja­cent grave, he said.

The bod­ies of the other vic­tims will be bur- ied once au­top­sies are com­pleted, he said.

The dis­cov­er­ies in north­ern Malaysia fol­lowed sim­i­lar rev­e­la­tions ear­lier May in Thai­land, where po­lice un­earthed 36 bod­ies from shal­low graves in seven aban­doned camps on the Thai side of the bor­der.

The dis­cov­er­ies have ex­posed hid­den net­works of jun­gle camps run by hu­man smug­glers, who have for years held count­less des­per­ate peo­ple cap­tive while ex­tort­ing ran­soms from their fam­i­lies. Most of the vic­tims were part of a wave of peo­ple who fled their home­lands to reach coun­tries like Malaysia, where they hoped to find work or live freely.

Hu­man rights groups and ac­tivists say the area along the Thai-Malaysia bor­der has been used for years to smug­gle mi­grants and refugees, in­clud­ing Ro­hingya Mus­lims.

In many cases, they pay hu­man smug­glers thou­sands of dol­lars for pas­sage, but are in­stead held for weeks or months while traf­fick­ers ex­tort more money from their fam­i­lies. Rights groups say some have been beaten to death, and The As­so­ci­ated Press has doc­u­mented other cases in which peo­ple have been en­slaved on fish­ing boats.

AP

Malaysian re­li­gious of­fi­cers and vil­lagers place coffins con­tain­ing re­mains of Ro­hingya mi­grants for a mass burial cer­e­mony in Kedah, Malaysia on Mon­day, June 22.

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