A total of 139 grave sites and 28 human trafficking ‘death camps’ have been found in Perlis so far, outnumbering the discoveries of similar grave sites on the Thai side of the border.
The graves likely contain the remains of hundreds of Bangladeshi and Burmese Rohingya migrants at the centre of the current human trafficking crisis.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told Reuters that 139 graves had been found during the period May 11 – May 23, with one being just 100m away from the mass grave with 26 corpses discovered in Songkhla earlier this month.
After the Songkhla discovery, the Home Ministry had initially claimed that no such camps existed on the Malaysian side of the border.A crackdown on trafficking networks began soon after the graves were discovered, with a joint Malaysian and Thai police operation managing to break up seven trafficking syndicates earlier this month.
Thirty-eight people were arrested in the bust, including 16 Malaysians, 21 Myanmar and one Indonesian. Two of the Malaysians arrested were police officers.
Fearing the crackdown, traffickers began to abandon vessels overloaded with thousands of migrants in the Andaman Sea, which nearly sparked an international humanitarian crisis.
After intense public pressure, the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia then decided to accommodate the refugees.
It is not known if the sudden reversal has anything to do with the possibility of Malaysia being excluded from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement over its human trafficking record.