Bangladesh asks Myanmar to suspend mobile networks 

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:55, Jan 09,2020


The government has asked the Myanmar authorities to suspend its mobile network along its border with Bangladesh on security ground.

The foreign ministry made the request in a diplomatic note to the Embassy of Myanmar in Dhaka last week.

The ministry said that the Burmese mobile network caused security threats in bordering districts Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban of Bangladesh.

This was disclosed in an inter-ministerial meeting with foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen in the chair at the foreign ministry in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The meeting also discussed the possibility of extending voice calls, SMS and mobile data services in Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban.

The government is also weighing the possibility of making data services available only for UN and government officials working in the camp areas.

The government has kept the 3G and 4G network services suspended since September 2019, making only the 2G network available for the displaced Rohingya people. Many international rights groups criticised the network suspension.

Bangladesh asked Myanmar to suspend its mobile networks on security ground because mobile SIMs issued by Burmese operators found in Rohingya camps, said a security agency official who attended the meeting.

The government now allows voice services round the clock, but controls internet services from dusk to dawn inside the camps and adjacent areas.

Over half a million SIMs used inside Rohingya camps and adjacent areas are under the coverage of Myanmar’s state telecommunication network allowing the country intelligence access through mobile networks inside the camps.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after August 25, 2017 due to unbridled murder, arson and rape during operations by the Myanmar military in Rakhine.

The United Nations denounced the Myanmar’s military operation as the act of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry estimate that about 11,16,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees now stay in Bangladesh.

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