BANGKOK (Reuters) – Sheltering in the backroom of a provincial Thai police station is a 35-year-old street vendor who triggered a human trafficking investigation that has reverberated across Southeast Asia.
He is a Rohingya Muslim, a mostly stateless group from western Myanmar. He had scraped a living for the past decade selling fried bread, or roti, from a push cart in Nakhon Si Thammarat, a city in southern Thailand.
MEIKTILA, Myanmar (Reuters) – When religious violence erupted in Meiktila in central Myanmar two years ago, local politician Win Htein spoke up for the minority Muslims who bore its deadly brunt. Many of his fellow Buddhists have never forgiven him.
At least 44 people were killed in March 2013 after a rampage by Buddhist mobs that Win Htein, a lawmaker for the National League for Democracy (NLD), tried to stop.
WANG KELIAN, Malaysia (Reuters) – Hassan Ismail wasn’t surprised when authorities found abandoned jungle camps near his village in northern Malaysia last week where 139 suspected human trafficking victims could be buried.
For the past three years, he said, small groups of sickly, rake-thin men regularly turned up to beg for food at his mosque
WANG KELIAN, Malaysia (Reuters) – The 139 graves uncovered near people-smuggling camps in northern Malaysia appear to hold only one body each, Malaysia’s deputy home minister said on Thursday, after earlier suspicions that they could contain multiple corpses of trafficked migrants.
“There is no mass grave. This is one person, one grave,” Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told reporters at a news conference near the sites, adding that the bodies had been buried with “proper white wrapping” and ceremonial camphor had been used.
BUKIT WANG BURMA, Malaysia (Reuters) – Malaysian police forensic teams, digging with hoes and shovels, on Tuesday began pulling out bodies from shallow graves found in abandoned jungle camps where an inter-governmental body said hundreds of victims of human traffickers may be buried.
The Malaysian government said it was investigating whether local forestry officials were involved with the people-smuggling gangs believed responsible for nearly 140 such graves discovered around grim camps along the border with Thailand.
BUKIT WANG BURMA, Malaysia (Reuters) – It’s a one-hour trek through thick jungle from the nearest road to the ramshackle camp along Malaysia’s northern border, but for all its remoteness this was a perfect setting for human traffickers to ply their grisly trade.
Prisoners could be kept alive with water from a stream running through the gully where the now-abandoned camp was nestled and, thanks to a good mobile phone signal from Thailand, they could communicate with accomplices across a trafficking supply chain that begins in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
WANG KELIAN, Malaysia (Reuters) – Malaysian police believe at least two of the jungle camps where they have found nearly 140 graves of suspected human trafficking victims were abandoned in the last two to three weeks, around the time that Thailand launched a crackdown on people smugglers.
The first body removed from the site had been dead for around the same amount of time and may have been left unburied as the traffickers fled in a hurry from the area near the Thai border, the local police chief said.
NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Myanmar’s ruling party is led by former members of a military junta, evolved from an organisation that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi once compared to a Nazi militia, and took office through electoral fraud.
This dubious history doesn’t seem to faze the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), as it prepares for an historic election likely to be held in November.
KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Six years ago, Paru Shrestha’s family tore down their old home in the Nepali town of Sankhu and replaced it with a modern, five-storey house. It probably saved their lives.
On April 25, a devastating earthquake killed over 7,700 people and flattened towns and villages across central Nepal, including most of Sankhu’s fine old buildings.
KATHMANDU, May 2 (Reuters) – Customs inspections at
Kathmandu airport are holding up vital relief supplies for
earthquake survivors in Nepal, a U.N. official said on Saturday,
as the death toll from the disaster a week ago passed 6,600.
United Nations Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said
the government must loosen its normal customs restrictions to
deal with the increasing flow of relief material now pouring in
from abroad and piling up at the airport.