Army Deployment on Border: BGB protests, asks for explanation

Myanmar’s BGP shows excuse of ‘internal security’

Bangladesh once again protested Myanmar’s military build-up along the Tombru border when the two countries held a flag meeting at Ghumdhum of Bandarban yesterday.

The meeting began around 3:30pm at Ghumdhum Border Observation Post of Naikhyangchhari where Bangladesh side questioned Myanmar’s troop deployment defying international border laws.

The Myanmar side was told that such a step could affect bilateral relations as well as the Rohingya repatriation, said Lt Col Majurul Ahsan Khan, commanding officer of BGB Battalion 34.

Myanmar, on the other hand, defended the deployment saying it was for “their internal security” and not targeted at Bangladesh.

The increased security presence was centred on a strip of no man’s land between the two countries where some 6,500 Rohingyas from Myanmar sought shelter after fleeing a brutal army crackdown last August.

Amid heightened tensions, Dhaka summoned Myanmar Ambassador Lwin Oo on Thursday afternoon and asked for immediate withdrawal of the troops who gathered along the border line with heavy arms and ammunition.

Later that day, a Myanmar soldier fired a shot in the air following an altercation with some Rohingyas on the no man’s land, according to a BGB official.

At yesterday’s flag meeting, Lt Col Khan raised the issue of huge security gathering along the border and firing of a shot.

“Myanmar denied firing any shot and said they deployed the huge contingent of army personnel as part of their strategy for internal security,” he told The Daily Star.

The BGB official called upon his Myanmar counterpart to inform Bangladesh before mobilising forces along the border so that no misunderstanding is created.

A seven-member delegation of BGB sat with a nine-member team of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) for the flag meeting.

Officials at the scene and residents in the neighbourhood said the overnight appearance of Myanmar army in battle gears escalated further the frights among the Rohingyas on the zero lines.

They said the Myanmar troops were asking the Rohingyas on zero lines to immediately quit the area, using megaphones and firing gunshots forcing several Rohingya women and children to enter Bangladesh.

Terming the army deployment a violation of border norms, Border Guard Bangladesh also increased its strength along the border at Bandarban’s Naikhyangchhari to “face any circumstances”.

Myanmar made the move some 10 days after it had agreed to take back the Rohingyas from the no-man’s land.

Yesterday, AFP quoted Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay as saying the recent spike in security along the border is a response to new intelligence about the movement of Rohingya militants.

“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, a militant group, and declining to elaborate further.

“It was not aimed at antagonising Bangladesh,” he added.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh fleeing a brutal military crackdown that the United Nation denounced as a textbook case of ethnic cleansing amid reports of arson, murder and rape.

Myanmar agreed to hold the talks yesterday in response to BGB’s call and assured that it will take back all the 6,500 Rohingyas on the no man’s land near Konapara village.


Meanwhile, the United States said it was watching carefully the situation around the border with Bangladesh following military build-up by Myanmar.

“I can just tell you that we’re watching that carefully. I can certainly understand that would be a concern of the government of Bangladesh, but we’re watching that one closely,” US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in reply to a question during a press briefing in Washington on Thursday.

The US Embassy in Dhaka on its Facebook page wrote: “We are aware of reports of an increasing presence of Burmese troops near the Bangladesh border and are closely monitoring the situation.”

Source: The Daily Star