September 21, 2022
DHAKA – As Dhaka calls upon the international community to use their influence to stop Myanmar’s unlawful activities at the Bangladesh border, Naypyidaw continues to blame the Arakan Army and ARSA for the problem.
Summoning the Bangladesh ambassador to Myanmar, Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury, on Monday, its foreign ministry said the Arakan Army and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) have been carrying out attacks in the border areas deliberately to damage the cordial relations between the two countries.
The development comes after the Bangladesh foreign ministry on Sunday summoned the Myanmar envoy for the fourth time since late August, briefed the ASEAN diplomats in Dhaka the following day and the representatives of the rest of the foreign countries yesterday.
Speaking at the briefing for the foreign diplomats at the state guest house Padma, acting foreign secretary Admiral (retd) Khurshed Alam said Myanmar should not be allowed to destabilise the entire region and create obstacles to Rohingya repatriation.
Representatives from most of the countries, including the US, India, Russia, European Union, were present. However, the Chinese embassy representative was not there, said foreign ministry sources.
Speaking to reporters, Khurshed said he updated the diplomats on the tense border situation and urged them to take actions in their capacity to stop the violence. He expressed concerns that failure in stopping the violence could jeopardise Rohingya repatriation, which has not been possible since 2017 when some 7.5 lakh Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh.
The acting foreign secretary said the government has asked the foreign diplomats to take actions so that mortar shells and bullets from Myanmar do not end up in Bangladesh territories anymore.
Armed conflicts between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army since early August have been sparking panic in the Bangladesh side of the border. On Friday, a Rohingya man was killed and five others were injured as mortar shells from Myanmar hit the no-man’s land. Life and livelihood of the Bangladeshis living in the border areas have also been affected.
“We requested them [diplomats] to take actions so that the conflicts do not create any pressure for the Bangladeshis,” Khurshed said.
He said Bangladesh is handling the situation with patience and trying to resolve it diplomatically, but violence is continuing. Amid such a situation, Border Guard Bangladesh and Coastguard have been put on high alert along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Bangladesh still believes in a diplomatic solution and it has no plan to deploy troops along the border, said the acting foreign secretary.
“We don’t want to get into the trap of Myanmar’s provocation.”
Asked about the response from the foreign diplomats, he said they assured Dhaka of informing their headquarters about raising the issue at the UN.
The foreign diplomats also appreciated Bangladesh’s diplomatic handling of the issue, said Khurshed.
Meanwhile, U Zaw Phyo Win, director-general of the Strategic Studies and Training Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Bangladesh envoy in Yangon on Monday that the Arakan Army and ARSA attacked the Taungpyo (Left) Border Guard Police Outpost at BP-31 with mortars on September 16, where three mortar shells landed in Bangladeshi territory.
He claimed these groups again used the same weapons and attacked the Taungpyo (Right) Border Guard Police Outpost at BP-34 on September 16-17, where nine mortar shells landed on Bangladeshi soil.
The Myanmar official said while taking the necessary security measures close to the border with utmost caution, Myanmar always abides by bilateral agreements and international norms. It also respects the integrity and sovereignty of all nations, including Bangladesh.
Win said Myanmar will cooperate with Bangladesh to maintain tranquillity in the border area and stressed the need for full and reciprocal cooperation from Bangladesh.
Asked about Myanmar’s blaming of the Arakan Army and ARSA, Khurshed said Bangladesh maintains ‘zero tolerance’ on sheltering any insurgent groups on its soil.
“Whatever the reasons may be, mortar shells and bullets landing in Bangladeshi territory from Myanmar’s internal conflicts is not acceptable,” he said.