The government summoned Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka on Saturday and protested against showing Saint Martin’s Island of Bangladesh in Myanmar territory in several maps.
Foreign ministry maritime affairs unit secretary M Khurshed Alam summoned ambassador Lwin Oo to the ministry and lodged a strong protest.
The ambassador was told that Bangladesh government identified at least three websites run by Myanmar authorities deliberately showing St Martin’s Island of Bangladesh as part of Myanmar with ulterior motives.
Myanmar’s ministry of labour, immigration and population used forged maps showing St Martin’s inhabitants as part of Myanmar population. The Myanmar authorities also shared those maps with several international websites.
In all the international political maps created in 1937, during the partition of India to independent countries India and undivided Pakistan in 1947, independence of Myanmar from British rule in 1948 and Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, St Martin’s have been shown as integral part of Bangladesh territory, Bangladesh officials said.
Myanmar had also accepted Bangladesh’s jurisdiction over St Martin’s Island in a bilateral instrument signed between the two countries in 1974, they said.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea also showed St Martin’s Island as part of Bangladesh in its maps presented in a verdict settling a dispute on maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2012, the officials said.
The ambassador was also told that showing Bangladesh’s parts in Myanmar maps might hamper bilateral relations between the two next door neighbours.
Ambassador Oo admitted that showing St Martin’s Island was a mistake, according to Bangladesh officials.
The Bangladesh side also handed over a diplomatic note to the ambassador demanding immediate rectification of the forged maps and an investigation to identify the perpetrators involved in the process and bringing them to justice.
Foreign ministry director general for South East Asia wing M Delwar Hossain and other officials were also present at the meeting.
The row on forged maps was created when the two countries were engaged in diplomatic efforts to start repatriation of forcibly displaced Myanmar ethnic minority Rohingyas to their ancestral home in Rakhine State from Bangladesh.
About 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
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