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Mass grave in Southern Thailand linked to human trafficking, say police

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Mass grave in Southern Thailand linked to human trafficking, say police | Thaiger

PHUKET: A mass grave near the Thai-Malaysian border in Songkhla was uncovered by Thai authorities today, reported Thai PBS.

A total of 33 partially decomposed bodies, thought by police to be Rohingya migrants, have been identified.

The area was previously used to hold about 200 to 300 Rohingya who were smuggled into the country, according to investigators, reported Thai PBS.

Royal Thai Police Commissioner Somyot Phumphanmuang confirmed the discovery of the mass grave, noting that the area had been used as a detention center by human traffickers.

However, villagers said that these migrants died of sickness and some died in fights after having quarrels among themselves. As the authorities arrived on the scene, following a tip-off by a Malaysian national, the area was vacant.

First-person accounts suggest human traffickers are shifting their operations into Malaysia as Thai authorities’ crack down on jungle camps near the border that have become prisons for Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing persecution in Myanmar, reported Reuters.

The report goes on to say that human traffickers have kept hundreds of Rohingya captive in houses in northern Malaysia, beating them, depriving them of food and demanding a ransom from their families, according to detailed accounts by the victims (story here).

Many of the tens of thousands of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar by boat have fallen into the hands of human traffickers at sea who then hold them hostage in remote Thai camps near the Malaysian border until relatives pay thousands of dollars to release them, according to a Reuters investigation published on December 5 (story here).

In January, Thai police said they rescued hundreds of Rohingya from a remote camp in southern Thailand, a raid they said was prompted by the Reuters investigation, and had launched a manhunt for the ‘kingpins’ who routinely smuggle humans through Southern Thailand to Malaysia with impunity (story here).

The intensified trafficking of Rohingyas into Muslim-majority Malaysia threatens to undermine its anti-human-trafficking record, which is at imminent risk of being downgraded by the United States to a par with North Korea, reported Reuters.

— Thai PBS / Phuket Gazette

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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