Mass graves in Malaysia might hold remains of smuggled migrants

Forensic policemen carry body bags with human remains found at the site of human trafficking camps in the jungle close the Thailand border after they brought them to a police camp near Wang Kelian in northern Malaysia on May 25. Malaysian authorities have found 139 graves, and signs of torture, in more than two dozen squalid human trafficking camps suspected to have been used by gangs smuggling migrants across the border with Thailand, the country's police chief said on Monday. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Forensic policemen carry body bags with human remains found at the site of human trafficking camps in the jungle close to the Thailand border after they brought them to a police camp near Wang Kelian in northern Malaysia on May 25. Malaysian authorities have found 139 graves, and signs of torture, in more than two dozen squalid human trafficking camps suspected to have been used by gangs smuggling migrants across the border with Thailand. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Police in Malaysia said Monday that more than 139 graves were found near the border with Thailand, and they suspect the graves contain the remains of migrants who were staying in camps run by smugglers.

The graves were in Perlis state in northern Malaysia, not far from other graves containing 30 bodies that Thai authorities discovered in May.

Thousands of people have arrived in Thailand and Malaysia by boat in recent weeks. The authorities said they believe the most recently discovered bodies were of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladeshis seeking work in Malaysia. Some of the bodies showed signs of torture.

Researchers said smugglers often hold the migrants in camps as they demand further payment from other family members, sometimes beating them to increase the pressure, reported the New York Times.

It can cost an additional $1,200 to $1,800 before the migrants are released from the camps, past Reuters investigations found.

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The post Mass graves in Malaysia might hold remains of smuggled migrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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