DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladeshi couple say they have spotted the son they had long given up for dead, emaciated but still alive, in an Indonesian camp for boat migrants shown in a newspaper photograph.
“I am 100 percent sure that it is him,” said Selina Akhtar, mother of Mohammad Sabbir Hasan, as she held up a copy of Kalerkantha, a Bangladeshi daily which published the picture taken by the AFP news agency.
She and husband Mohammad Hasanur Rahman have asked the government to help bring their son back from Indonesia.
Thousands of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladeshis, have been trying to slip into Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for years through a people-smuggling network. Some have paid huge sums to board fishing boats while some others have been trafficked, their families say.
Rahman said his 23-year-old son went missing a year ago from the Bangladeshi port of Cox’s Bazar, where he had gone with friends to celebrate the Bangla New Year.
He said people in the area told him his son was among several who were forced into boats and taken away.
Mass graves and suspected human-trafficking detention camps have been discovered by Malaysian police in towns and villages bordering Thailand.
Bangladesh’s junior minister for foreign affairs, Mohammad Shahriar Alam, said the government would bring back all its citizens in camps in southeast Asia and assured Rahman of his full support.
Reporting by Serajul Quadir; editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Andrew Roche