Policemen monitor as forensic experts dig out human remains near the abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 26, 2015. Malaysian police forensic teams, digging with hoes and shovels, began the grim task on Tuesday of exhuming the bodies of dozens of suspected victims of human traffickers found buried around jungle camps near the Thai border. | (Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj)
Clothes are photographed near abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 26, 2015. Malaysian police forensic teams, digging with hoes and shovels, began the grim task on Tuesday of exhuming the bodies of dozens of suspected victims of human traffickers found buried around jungle camps near the Thai border. | (Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj)
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, May 25, 2015. 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: Reuters/Damir Sagolj)
Malaysian police officers leave the site of the place where human remains were found, near an abandoned human trafficking camp, in the jungle close to the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 29, 2015. Thailand has 600 new "boat people" in temporary holding areas, the country's Deputy Prime Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn said on Friday. | (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
A Malaysian policeman leaves the site of the place where human remains were found, near an abandoned human trafficking camp, in the jungle close to the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 29, 2015. Malaysian police have exhumed the remains of four people from the trafficking camp at Bukit Wang Burma, a hill near Wang Kelian village. There is a police checkpoint and barracks only a few hundred meters from the jungle path that leads up to the Bukit Wang Burma camp. The camps are located in a remote but sensitive border area that many state agencies are tasked with monitoring. | (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
Malaysian authorities have begun exhuming the jungle graves of 139 trafficked migrant captives, who were buried in various human trafficking detention camps along a 30-mile stretch of the Malaysia-Thailand border, where it is believed they were tortured and kept in cages.
Malaysian Deputy Home Minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, told reporters on Thursday that 12 police officials have been arrested for alleged involvement in human trafficking, while two of the officers were directly linked to recently discovered graves.
After it was reported earlier this week that the 139 discovered graves contained multiple bodies, Jaafar asserted that the graves only contained one body per grave.
"The bodies were wrapped in white cloth," Jaafar explained. "It is like the Muslim burial ... some are shallow graves, not all."
Both sides of the Malaysia-Thailand border are believed to be used by smugglers to bring people to Southeast Asia from Myanmar on boat. Most of the people migrating out of Myanmar to Southeast Asia are Rohingya Muslims fleeing to avoid further persecution, while people from Bangladesh use the migrant route to seek job opportunity.
Christian Today reports that thousands of Rohingya Muslims are processed through Southern Thailand every year and smugglers commonly place the migrants in remote detention camps along the Malaysian border until their ransom can be paid.
"If an individual's family did not pay, those staying long in the camps were tortured, beaten and deprived of food," Joe Millman, a spokesman for the International Organisation of Migration, told a news briefing in Geneva.
Malaysian authorities have discovered 28 human trafficking camps over the course of last weekend. Last month, Thai officials discovered similar graves and human trafficking camps on their side of the border.
"We don't know if there is a link between the Thai camps and Malaysia camps," Phuttichart Ekachan, deputy chief of Thailand's Provincial Police Region 9, told Reuters.
"It is possible that because of the Thai crackdown some of the camps moved and some of them (migrants) then walked over or escaped to the Thai side. It is possible but it isn't something we have been able to confirm."
According to BBC, Malaysian authorities gave reporters a tour of some of the discovered camps in Malaysia, which reportedly contained what were believed to be "human cages."
Government crackdowns on human trafficking have led to smugglers abandoning their human cargo on boats in the waters of Thailand, which have begun coming ashore on the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia.
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