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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 15, 2018

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Dozens of migrant mass graves found on Malaysian border with Thailand

Several mass graves believed to contain bodies of Myanmar migrants

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BANGKOK/KUALA LUMPUR - Several mass graves believed to contain bodies of Myanmar migrants have been found in Malaysia on the border with Thailand, authorities say.

Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi told local media the graves were found in 17 abandoned human trafficking camps near the Thai border, but he did not know how many of the bodies had been recovered.

Several mass graves have been found in Thailand along a route used by traffickers to smuggle desperate Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar (also known as Burma), but these were the first graves of their kind to be found in Malaysia.

Thailand has already launched a crackdown on the trafficking networks, but the BBC claims that there are entire communities in the country facilitating the traffickers and taking advantage of the Rohingya Muslims, who have no rights in Myanmar and are mercilessly persecuted.

The Thai trafficking networks, according to the BBC, bring boatloads of migrants from other smugglers and hold them in the jungle until their families pay a ransom. Many migrants are believed to have perished from disease or starvation, or to have been killed due to non-payment.

The latest graves were found near Padang Besar and Wang Kelian in the Malaysian state of Perlis, according to Malaysian newspaper reports. Some reports suggest as many as 30 graves have been found, but those reports have not been verified.

Thousands of migrants, mainly Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar and economic migrants from Bangladesh, are stranded in boats in the area and more than 3,000 have reached neighbouring Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia so far this year.

Malaysia and Indonesia have begun searching for migrant boats in the past week while Myanmar rescued the first boat two days ago, having until now claimed that the migrant crisis is not the Myanmar government's concern.

Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to stop towing boats out to sea and will provide temporary shelter to those who have landed, Thailand has not gone so far to pledge shelter, saying only that it will no longer 'reject' the boats.> BNN

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