Tension in Myanmar border continues

Flag meeting held, Bangladesh demands troops retreat, Myanmar defends fresh deployment

Mohiuddin Alamgir and Mohammad Nurul Islam | Published: 00:05, Mar 03,2018 | Updated: 22:57, Mar 02,2018

 
 

Increased deployment of Myanmar army and Border Guard Police and their stepped up patrolling along the border opposite to Tumbru under Naikhyangchari in Bandarban caused border tension between the two neighbours.
Myanmar on Friday claimed that the fresh deployment was for internal security as Bangladesh called for an immediate retreat to lower tensions along the troubled border.
Myanmar troops continued to frighten about 6,000 Rohingyas, sheltered in no-man’s land between the two countries fleeing violence and military crackdown on the ethnic minority group, and asked them through public address system to leave the place.
Myanmar troops were seen patrolling along the barbed-wire border fence opposite to Tumbru and in reaction to this Border Guard Bangladesh was put on high alert to face any circumstances.
Local people said that Myanmar increased troops opposite of Konarpara area of Tumbru border and at least 15 trucks carrying troops were seen in between 8:00am to 11:30am on Friday.
A top official in border guard headquarters said that Myanmar troops opened a blank fire opposite to Tumbru border Thursday evening.
Myanmar border guard police, however, rejected the allegation and once again assured that they would take back all Rohingyas living on the zero line.
They made the assurance at a flag meeting between Border Guard Bangladesh and Myanmar border guard police to ease the ‘volatile situation’.
Border guards 34-battalion commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Manzurul Hassan Khan said after the flag meeting that they protested against the fresh deployment of troops and Myanmar border guards replied that they increased troops because of internal security of Myanmar.
They also said that Myanmar was ready to take back Rohingyas living on the zero line, Manzurul added.
He also said that the Bangladesh side told the meeting that such deployment of troops might hamper the process of repatriation of Rohingyas.
Bandarban deputy commissioner Dilip Kumar Banik told New Age that it was normal that there would be tension in this situation and BGB had been put on high alert to face any circumstances.
‘We have talked with Myanmar citizens and Bangladeshi locals and said that there was nothing to worry,’ said Dilip, who visited Ghumdhum and Tombru borders Friday morning,
Myanmar increased deployment of troops with heavy weapons inside 150 yards of its border opposite to Tumbru, border guard officials said.
The government on Thursday summoned Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka Lwin Oo and protested against unusual mobilisation of huge troops with heavy arms and ammunition violating international conventions.
Myanmar started heavy military buildup on Thursday within two weeks of request of Bangladesh, at a home minister-level meeting in Dhaka on February 16, to maintain international conventions for stopping movement of the defence forces in bordering areas without notice to keep the border peaceful.
Myanmar also agreed to take back the Rohingyas from the no-man’s land of repatriation of Rohingyas.
Rohingya community leaders including Dil Mohammad, Faridul Alam, and Nurul Alam said that heavy presence of Myanmar army and border guard police so near the camps worried the ethnic minorities.
They also said that continued broadcasting of messages using public address system asking Rohingyas to leave the area created more tension among the ethnic minorities.
‘We cannot sleep peacefully. Most of the Rohingyas want to flee and take shelter in Bangladesh,’ Dil Mohammad said.
Naikhyangchari upazila nirbahi officer SM Sarwar Kamal said that the situation was normal in the area and no Rohingya entered Bangladesh till Friday evening.
‘Some of them [Rohingyas] might have visited camps in Kutupalang and Balukhali area as their relatives are living there,’ he added.
Agence France-Presse reported from Yangon that Myanmar on Friday defended the fresh deployment, blaming a militant threat and it was not aimed at antagonising Bangladesh.
The recent spike in security along the border is a response to new intelligence about the movement of Rohingya militants, said Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay.
‘We acted this way based on the information we got regarding terrorism, especially the ARSA movement,’ he told the news agency, using an acronym for the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, and declining to elaborate further.
‘It was not aimed at antagonising Bangladesh,’ he added.
In recent weeks the Rohingyas living in the no man’s land strip have faced growing pressure from Myanmar soldiers, who have stepped up patrols along the barbed-wire border fence near the camp and ordered the group to leave over loudspeakers, the AFP report said.
The Bangladesh government and international community continue struggling to cope with the situation as over 6.88 lakh Rohingyas have so far entered Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017 making it one of the biggest humanitarian problems of the world.
The new influx began after Myanmar security forces on August 25, 2017 responded to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s reported attacks by launching a violence that the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing.
Officials estimated that the new influx increased the number of Myanmar people living in Bangladesh to 11.07 lakh. 

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