Police found 30 new graves at an old, unused Muslim burial ground inside an abandoned detention camp for illegal Rohingya migrants in Hat Yai district, Songkhla, this morning. The graveyard is at Ban Chalung village in tambon Chalung, Hat Yai. Villagers said it had been unused for nearly 40 years and there had previously been only six old graves. They told police the 30 new graves had been there for about a year, reports Bangkok Post.
Meanwhile, 38 police officers working in the South have been transferred to inactive posts in the wake of the discovery of mass graves there , the daily reports. Officials said the graves were similar to the 26 graves found at a Rohingya detention camp in a forest in Padang Besar sub-district of Songkhla’s Sadao district last week. The area where the graves were found had been a venue for a big camp that had held Rohingya migrants.
Police said the 30 graves had not yet been opened for examination. Police also found an old detention camp at a rubber plantation in nearby Ban Khlong Tor in Songkhla’s Rattaphum district on Thursday. They believed the deserted camp functioned as a rest area for Rohingya being smuggled from Satun province to Sadao, where they crossed the border to Malaysia.
Police on Thursday also found 13 Rohingya migrants walking near a forest on Khao Kaew Mountain in Padang Besar sub-district and took them in for questioning. The group said traffickers had abandoned them in the jungle. Earlier they had travelled from Myanmar by sea to Satun with 17 other compatriots. They were told they were walking across the border into Malaysia, but their guides suddenly deserted them. The 17 others were found on Wednesday.
The discovery of additional graves and detention shelters followed the transfer of dozens of southern police officers to pave the way for an extended investigation into human trafficking in the region. Police have warrants issued for the arrest of 18 people allegedly involved in Rohingya trafficking in Songkhla. Pol Maj Gen Phutthichart Ekachan, deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 9, said 11 of the suspects are civilians who had been guards at the detention camps, and seven others were government officials. Police have five of them in custody, four are government officials.
38 THAI POLICE COPS TRANSFERRED
In the wake of the discovery of mass graves in Songkhla, National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang signed a order to transfer 38 police officers on Wednesday. The 38 officers include senior police working at Provincial Police Regions 8 and 9, the Marine Police Division, and the immigration bureau. The transfer order takes effect today.
A committee will be set up to investigate them, Thai media reported today. Thai media reports said immigration police who were transferred work at migrant checkpoints and offices in Songkhla, Padang Besar, Ranong and Satun.
Police spokesman Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri said on Thursday the 38 officers will face a disciplinary investigation. Any found to be involved in human trafficking will face harsh punishment. The move follows the discovery of dozens of graves and bodies, believed to be illegal Rohingya migrants, at abandoned jungle camps in Padang Besar, in Sadao district of Songkhla, and Phangnga, where 10 graves were found in Takua Pa on May 5.