PETALING JAYA: A Rohingya group in Malaysia has called for a United Nations investigation into an alleged attempt to cover up the 2015 discovery of torture camps and mass graves in the Perlis town of Wang Kelian, close to the Thai border.
Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, president of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation of Malaysia, said the UN as well as other international bodies should find out why Malaysian authorities waited several months before announcing the discovery.
He was referring to a New Straits Times (NST) claim that police had known of the camps since January 2015. It was only at a press conference in May of that year that the then inspector-general of police, Khalid Abu Bakar, announced the discovery not only of the camps, but also of mass graves.
The NST speculated that potentially useful evidence could have been destroyed in the interim.
Those buried in the graves were believed to be foreigners, mostly from Myanmar.
Zafar said the matter was serious enough to warrant an investigation by international bodies not only into the delay in the Malaysian announcement, but also into the wider issue of human trafficking involving Rohingya victims.
He said the probe should cover four countries: Myanmar, the source of the human traffic; Bangladesh, from where traffickers transported humans in rickety boats; and Thailand and Malaysia, to where people were smuggled, tortured and killed.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, responding to the NST report, has said that Malaysian authorities would investigate the the matter thoroughly, but Zafar told FMT a localised investigation would not get to the root of the problem of human trafficking from Myanmar.
“The investigation should be done with the help of international bodies as it involves three other countries,” he said.
In the May 2015 announcement, the press was told that more than 130 graves in 28 temporary camps were found in Wang Kelian. The discovery followed similar finds in Thailand, which prompted Thai police to launch a crackdown on human trafficking networks.