Bangladesh faces growing provocations from Myanmar on border


Myanmar has angered its neighbor Bangladesh for the past two months by shelling along the border and violating the frontier in the name of fighting the insurgency inside the military-ruled country.

Myanmar says its fight against the Arakan Army and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army has caused an unwanted situation on the border with Bangladesh.

Experts believe the Myanmar junta government is increasing its military capacity and weapons which pose a potential threat to the peace and stability in the region.

Though Bangladesh summoned the Myanmar envoy to Dhaka several times to register its protest, there is no change in the situation on the ground.

Director General of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Maj. Gen. Shakil Ahmed visited the border areas along Myanmar on Monday and warned that it has an account of each bullet fired from across the Myanmar border.

BGB strongly protested the firing of mortar shells by the Myanmar border forces that landed inside Bangladesh.

– Panic among locals, Rohingya

Despite repeated calls from Bangladesh, Myanmar has yet to show any sign of mitigating the escalating situation as fresh firing, and shelling across the border erupted on Sunday night and continued until Tuesday.

According to official records and media reports, in the last two months at least two Rohingya have been killed and nearly one dozen others, including some Bangladeshi nationals, injured by mortars fired by Myanmar’s forces from across the border.

The situation has caused frustration among Rohingya over their possible return to their home country, Myanmar.

Since August 2017, nearly 4,500 Rohingya have been living in makeshift tents in the no-man’s land of Tambru area along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Rohingya families in the area have shifted to nearby safer places amid the escalating gunfighting.

Bangladesh currently hosts over 1.2 million persecuted Rohingya in 34 overcrowded makeshift camps on a large hilly forest site in Cox’s Bazar, the country’s southern tourist hub and border district. They fled a brutal military crackdown in their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017.

Nay San Lwin, the co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, told Anadolu Agency that the military regime in Myanmar talks about the Rohingya repatriation just to ease some pressures from the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and other blocs.

“The world must unite against the military regime and bring an authentic civilian government into power in Myanmar. Then this Rohingya repatriation will happen,” he opined.

“Meanwhile, the genocide survivors in Bangladeshi refugee camps should be supported and empowered through all means, including financial, and educational aid,” he added.

– ‘Global powers protecting Myanmar’

Experts suggested that Bangladesh needs diplomatic pacts with global leaders to put pressure on Myanmar as the military-ruled country, according to them, gets support from China, India, Russia, and western countries in the global forums.

Kamal Uddin, a professor at the Department of International Relations, University of Chittagong, said Bangladesh will have to engage the UN, and other global powers to pressurize Myanmar to de-escalate border tension.

“Myanmar violated every condition of being a good neighbor,” he added.

He said Israel reportedly provided arms to Myanmar when it started the crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017.

“And we know Israel is largely supported by the US and EU or the western powers. So, we know the story behind Myanmar’s aggressive movement, violating the neighbor’s border and not taking back Rohingya refugees,” Kamal Uddin added.

Bangladesh should engage in talks with India, China, Russia, and ASEAN in this regard, he suggested.

C R Abrar, a professor at the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, said China is the top economic development partner of Bangladesh, while Dhaka and New Delhi also enjoy good bilateral relations.

“But these countries’ positions at global forums go against Bangladesh,” Abrar told Anadolu Agency, adding: “It’s a worrying sign and a potential security threat not only to Bangladesh but for the whole region.”

The experts pointed out that Bangladesh lags behind at the global forums due to a lack of proper diplomatic efforts.

Bangladesh failed to mobilize the global community to pressurize Myanmar on the Rohingya issue, Kamal Uddin added.

“Bangladesh will have to consider all the possible options, including military deployment along the Myanmar border and offensive measures. However, any aggressive position along the border would bring less good in the long term,” Kamal Uddin said, adding: “It’s time to rethink and reshape our foreign policy and our stance on the global military fronts.”

“We have to ensure all the refugee rights, including education, health and employment, for the Rohingya people living in Cox’s Bazar or in remote Island Bhasan Char, and remain engaged with the UN and international communities in this regard,” Abrar viewed.

– Diplomatic efforts

Sources at the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry told Anadolu Agency that there has been no new diplomatic development in terms of pressuring Myanmar.

On condition of anonymity, an official at the ministry said Bangladesh continues to convey its messages to India and China, but these countries said they did not want to intervene or pressurize Myanmar, describing it as “Myanmar’s internal matter.”

“We know who (global powers) have been helping Myanmar which makes it so aggressive that it violates border norms. But we cannot force any third country to pressurize Myanmar,” the official added.

Bangladesh, however, remains in contact with Myanmar through diplomatic channels to keep the situation normal, said the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen this week told reporters in Dhaka that Bangladesh is worried about the Rohingya and the current situation in Myanmar.

Momen said Bangladesh sought support from China on the issue and believed China had conveyed Dhaka’s concerns to Myanmar.



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