Myanmar is repeatedly breaking promises.
The country is not honouring its promise not to violate the border. Instead, Myanmar’s helicopters are flying in the sky every day in Myanmar near the border of Bangladesh. The entire border area including Tumbru, Baishaphandi, Reju Gorjanbania, Amtali of Naikshyangchari trembled with the loud sound of the shells fired from Bankar. Sometimes shells and mortar shells fired from Myanmar are coming inside Bangladesh. Local residents including 4,500 Rohingyas who have taken shelter in “no man’s land” are terrified.
They protested by summoning the Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka three times, but their aggressive activities did not stop. This time, a Rohingya teenager died when a mortar shell fired from the mountains of Rakhine state across the Ghumdhum border of Naikxyongchari Upazila of Bandarban fell on the zero line opposite the Tumbru border. Five Rohingya including a child were injured. In such a situation, the prospect of new Rohingya influx in Bangladesh is increasing.
A source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Daily Our Times that Bangladesh has decided to summon the country’s Ambassador in Dhaka once again in the case of the Myanmar army’s shelling in Bangladesh and the death of one person. He was summoned by the Myanmar “wing” of the Ministry of External Affairs. Apart from this, Bangladesh will raise the issue of Myanmar’s breach of promise and border violation in the upcoming UN General Session.
According to sources, Dhaka is monitoring the situation with patience. A clear message has been given that Bangladesh will not accept incidents like 2017 in any way. Dhaka’s concerns have been strongly conveyed through the Bangladesh Embassy in Naypyidaw. Foreign missions in Dhaka have also been informed that Bangladesh will not accept a single Rohingya. Rather, the message has also been given to focus on the repatriation of Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh as soon as possible.
Experts believe that Bangladesh should proceed diplomatically without indulging in any kind of provocation. Apart from neighbouring India, Bangladesh has a land border only with Myanmar. There have been various tensions on that border for many years.
In 2007, two Myanmar warships entered St. Martin. In 2011, they entered the Bangladesh border and abducted a BGB member with weapons. Bandarban’s Thanchi was hit by mortar shells and bullets in 2012, 2016 and 2017.
In 2014, Myanmar showed the audacity to kill a Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) member and take away his body in Bandarban’s Naikshyongchari. In 2019 and 2020, the country shows its share of St. Martin.
Apart from this, since 2017, Myanmar helicopters have violated the airspace of Bangladesh more than 19 times. And several times in the last month, Myanmar’s Choda mortar shells and ammunition have fallen inside Bangladesh. Last Friday, five mortar shells fell inside Bangladesh at the Ghumdhum border of Naikxyongchari Upazila of Bandarban.
Another shell fired from Myanmar fell inside Bangladesh on 9 September. It was the third shot. It also falls in an area called Tumbru Ghonarpara in Ward No. 2 of Ghumdhum Union of Naikshyongchari in Bandarban. However, no casualty occurred in this incident. Earlier on 28 August, two mortar shells fired by the Myanmar Army fell in Tumbru Uttarpara Jame Masjid area of the same union. There were no casualties as they did not explode. Later on, September 3 at 9:30 am, two shells fired from warplanes fell in the area between border pillars 40-41 under Reju Amtali BGB BOP of Ward No. 8.
Bangladesh-Myanmar border situation is causing concern, said United Nations Resident Representative Louise Nguyen. While talking to the journalists yesterday, he said that the border situation of Bangladesh is worrying from Rakhine. The UN is constantly monitoring, and regular contact is also being maintained with the Myanmar mission. He also said, to be honest, the whole incident is not clear. However, on-site viewing is not allowed. Therefore, Louis Nguyen requested both countries to maintain peace.
International analyst and professor of Dhaka University, Imtiaz Ahmad said:
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said:
The Home Minister also mentioned the issue of not keeping Myanmar’s word in the talks at various times.
Myanmar is carrying out one after another ‘aggressive’ activities in the border areas of Bangladesh in violation of all international norms. The country is doing this even though the situation of placing mines in the area near the zero line of the border is very dangerous.
Earlier, Rohingyas were killed in such mine blasts, but now Bangladeshis are being victimised. A Bangladeshi youth’s leg was blown off in this mine explosion. On the same day, a Rohingya youth was killed and five others injured in a shell fired from Myanmar. The presence of the Myanmar army in the border area without a war situation is against international practice, but the country does not accept it. At the same time, anxiety and fear are increasing in the unilateral behaviour of the country. The question of whether Myanmar’s border violation will continue has also been raised in the recent context.
Meanwhile, the 12 villages of Ghumdhum Union on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border of Bandarban Naikshyongchari are becoming increasingly unsafe due to repeated incidents of border violations by Myanmar. The safety of about 17,000 Bangladeshis including women and children living in those villages is under threat. Naikxyongchari Upazila Executive Officer Salma Ferdous told Dhaka Times that a letter has been sent to the Chittagong Divisional Commissioner through the Bandarban District Commissioner seeking instructions regarding their evacuation and security.
On the other hand, the 200 km border has been sealed to prevent infiltration. Patrolling has been strengthened along with the deployment of additional members of Bangladesh Border Guard-BGB at the concerned border. No one is allowed near the Zero Line of the border. BGB Headquarters Director (Operation) Lieut.
Experts say that Myanmar seems to be inciting Bangladesh to war. They also raised questions about whether they want to trap Bangladesh in war. Experts say that two factors are in front of several factors, firstly, it is creating a situation where the rest of the Rohingyas trapped in that country are forced to migrate to Bangladesh. Second, the international process that has begun to repatriate the 1.2 million Rohingyas who are embroiled in war in Bangladesh may become a long-winded or hanging trap. Experts believe that they are doing such activities as a part of incitement for Bangladesh to join the war.
Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh say that the Foreign Minister, State Minister and Secretary of Bangladesh are staying in London to attend a UN session. They have already been informed about the border incident. According to their instructions, Aung Kyaw Mo, Myanmar’s Ambassador to Bangladesh, has been summoned.
Bangladesh should find a way to solve the problem through discussion through diplomatic channels rather than engaging in war.
As Myanmar repeatedly violates international law, Bangladesh can step up diplomacy.
War would be a trap. There may be different motives behind it. Rohingyas will flee if their lives are threatened. And if they escape, they will try to enter Bangladesh. Bangladesh should talk about this issue in the international forum to clarify what is the intention of Myanmar. Myanmar may have provoked war to delay or suspend the process of repatriation of Rohingyas who are in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, putting Myanmar’s mines on the border is a final violation of international law, Myanmar is repeatedly violating our borders and airspace. They get away with violating international norms. They are showing this audacity because they have not been punished in the past.
Kamal Uddin Mazumder is a Researcher and Security Affairs Analyst in Dhaka.