New mass graves with 24 bodies thought to be those of migrants have been found in Malaysia, police say. The graves were found in the state of Perlis near the Thai border not far from 139 grave sites unearthed in May, Perlis police chief Shafie Ismail said. Authorities believe they may belong to migrants held for ransom in jungle camps by gangs of human traffickers. Migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar have left for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia recently. Most of the more than 100 bodies found in May belonged to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
Malaysian police said the latest bodies have been sent for post-mortem examinations. Survivors of the detention camps have told the BBC that they were tortured and raped when they couldn’t pay the traffickers, and said some died from the abuse. The news is likely to trigger more debate on whether Malaysian officials are doing enough to stop human trafficking. Recently, the US removed Malaysia from its list of human trafficking’s worst offenders. But, human rights groups accused American officials of doing this in order to speed up a trade pact with the Asia Pacific region, something the US has denied.