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NGO: Police should go after the big fish involved in Wang Kelian human trafficking deaths


ALOR SETAR: Two years after 106 bodies of human trafficking victims were exhumed in Wang Kelian, Perlis, the Malaysian Consul­tative Council of Islamic Organisation (Mapim) has expressed its dismay that only four people were charged in court over the matter.

Its president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said more could be done by the authorities as he believed those charged in court could be just the ikan bilis (small fry).

“The authorities should go after the big fish as some of the trafficked victims had furnish­ed the authorities with details about who were involved.

“We hope to have a dialogue session with the Federal Government and all the relevant agencies, including the Prime Minister, as we want to know what they have done to keep such incidents in check,” he said.

Mohd Azmi was speaking to reporters du­ring the Wang Kelian second anniversary memorial where prayers were held for the 106 human trafficking victims who were bu­ried in a plot at Kampung Tualang, Pokok Sena, about a 30-minute drive from here.

In Ops Wawasan Khas conducted from May 11 to 23 in 2015, police found 139 graves scattered around 28 transit camps abandoned by a human trafficking syndicate in Wang Burma hill and Wang Perah hill at the Malaysia-Thailand border.

The victims were believed to be Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshis. They were suspected to have died of abuse or malnou­rishment.

The memorial was held by Mapim and Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign, and attended by representatives of NGOs.

Paying their respects: Mohd Azmi (front left) together with Jerald (third from right) and other NGO members visiting the graveyard in Pokok Sena, Kedah.
Paying their respects: Mohd Azmi (front left) together with Jerald (third from right) and other NGO members visiting the graveyard in Pokok Sena, Kedah.
 

Mohd Azmi said they had heard the horror stories and first-hand accounts from the victims who were trafficked from Myanmar to Thailand and then to Malaysia.

“The deaths of human trafficking victims that we were told about could be just 1% or 2% as there could be many cases that went unreported.

“The victims were simply hurled into the sea or left abandoned in the jungles. Worse, this had been going on for years,” he added.

Mohd Azmi said the issue here was not about giving these victims a proper burial but about closure when the human trafficking masterminds were brought to book.

“Those involved in this trade could always use new trails to bring in their victims,” he said.

“The authorities should work closely with Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) and Penang Stop Human Traffic­king Campaign to tackle the issue.”

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said they would interview another batch of human trafficking victims to get to know the latest on the syndicate members.

“We need to cripple the networking of these syndicates. For example, some of the victims were ferried around by the syndicate members from Kuala Lumpur and Penang. We can put a stop to the chain by picking up the drivers,” he said.

Jerald said more hard-pressed issues inclu­ded refugees who have been here for more than 20 years.

“They should be given the basic human right to carry on with their lives here, such as the opportunity to study.”

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