Four Burmese workers have been killed by unknown attackers over the past 10 days in Malaysia, according to an NGO providing the funeral services.
“All of them were attacked with knives but on different dates and places since July 1. The way they were all murdered was similar,” San Win, chairman of the Myanmar Free Funeral Services, a Kuala Lumpur-based group, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “It looks like they were ambushed. The fourth man, who was murdered yesterday, was just like the previous three: his throat was slashed, his hands were chopped and his stomach had been stabbed.”
Myo Pai, head of another Kuala Lumpur-based free funeral service that assists Burmese migrants, was killed on Wednesday, the same day a funeral was held for his colleague Ko Tony, who was killed on Monday in Penang, some 300 kilometers away. Both were well known among Burmese migrant workers in the country, according to the social worker and family members, who said the two men helped illegal Burmese immigrant workers return to their homeland.
“I could not believe he was killed like that. Everyone loves him because he was a social man,” said Myo Pai’s son Ye Htut Pai. “We do not know exactly how it happened because it was late in the evening, and the police say they are still investigating.
Some suspect the attacks were related to clashes between Buddhists and Muslims that rocked Burma’s second-biggest city Mandalay last week.
“At first, the murders were believed to have been caused by social or financial issues, but many here think they are related to the riots in Mandalay last week. Whenever there is communal conflict, there are more killings here,” San Win said.
He said that last year in May, when anti-Muslim riots broke out in the Burmese towns of Meikhtila and Lashio, nine Burmese people were killed in Malaysia and 15 others were injured.
The Burmese Embassy in Malaysia has been informed of the recent deaths this month, as have Malaysian authorities.
“After the Burmese Embassy learned about the Burmese being attacked by some Malaysian extremist group, the Burmese ambassador and military attaché talked to the Malaysian foreign ministry, interior ministry and security officials to urgently investigate those murder cases and to take action against the perpetrators,” the Burmese Embassy said in a statement.
It added that the ambassador “urged the Malaysian authorities to protect Myanmar [Burmese] workers from such attacks.”