Kuala Lumpur/Hong Kong: Malaysian police are investigating a mass grave discovered in the northern state of Perlis that local media say includes the bodies of Rohingya migrants from Myanmar.
Police inspector-general Khalid Abu Bakar and home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed in separate text messages on Sunday that a grave site had been found. They gave no more details. Police plan a briefing on Monday, Khalid said.
The Star Online reported earlier that police and forensic teams arrived on Friday in Padang Besar, a town bordering Thailand, where a grave was believed to contain the bodies of almost 100 Rohingya migrants. The report cited an unidentified person.
The discovery occurred amid an exodus of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from majority-Buddhist Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and have endured attacks on their homes and businesses. Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, has said it’s making “serious efforts" to prevent illegal migration from its Rakhine state.
The mass grave represents “a lapse in both the Malaysian and Thai security nets, which both countries should join hands to enhance," said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Its discovery should help motivate the countries to mount joint patrols and increase humanitarian efforts, he said.
As asylum seekers try to reach Malaysia and Indonesia, a crackdown by Thai authorities on overland smuggling rings has forced people to travel by sea. Malaysia and Indonesia said last week that they will provide temporary shelter to thousands stranded on overcrowded boats.
Malaysia previously forced boats carrying Rohingya and Bangladeshis out of its waters after more than 1,000 undocumented migrants arrived on its shores this month.
Mynamar’s government has denied any conflict in Rakhine state, saying the issue is one of human trafficking. Bloomberg