Does Myanmar want to heat up Bangladesh with its own country’s internal problems? Bangladesh is already struggling to shelter hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar on humanitarian grounds, yet making the lives of Bangladeshi citizens unsafe by shelling the border cannot be accepted in any way.
Myanmar’s military rulers are facing various crises within the country. But in various equations of international politics, that tyrant government has become completely reckless with the support of some world power. They don’t face any protest and condemnation. Desperate attempts to maintain military rule in the country continue in Myanmar. The country has become an example of authoritarian rule.
Fierce fighting has been going on inside Myanmar for some time now between the government army and the junta and the rebel Arakan Army. Both forces are now disorientated. Their shells are falling again and again inside Bangladesh. At least four times in the last one month, shells fired from the other side have reached the border of Bangladesh. However, on Friday (September 16) night, one person was killed and seven people were injured due to mine explosion and mortar shelling, which was one of the worst incidents in the last five years. And because of that, many of the 4500 Rohingya sheltered by the Tumbru zero line are fleeing the camp in small groups. Many more are preparing to flee.
Last Sunday (September 18), Myanmar soldiers fired 12 mortar shells at Ghumdhum border of Naikxyongchari upazila of Bandarban. The mortar shells fell between 6:30 am and 8:00 am. Rohingya camps on the border and villages in Ghumdhum areas of Bangladesh were repeatedly shaken by the loud noise.
Apart from this, the sound of gunfire also came from across the border in Myanmar throughout the day. Residents of the village saw a warplane of that country flying in the sky of Tumbru near the Zero Line. When this is the situation at the border, Myanmar’s ambassador Aung Choy Moe appointed in Dhaka by the Bangladesh government was called last Sunday afternoon and told strictly, ‘What you do inside your borders is your own business. Keep an eye on the other side so that the bullets do not come again, so that the lives and property are not damaged.’ The Myanmar ambassador had to appear on the summons for the fourth time in the last one month. However, this time he was not entertained with tea and coffee or anything to express the anger of the Bangladesh government over the border incident.
It is necessary to mention that the water and land border of Bangladesh with Myanmar is 271 km long. Of this, the land border at Naikshyongchari is 91 km. Badi Alam, a businessman of Tambru Bazar in Naikshyongchari, village police Abdul Jabbar, Rohingya Abdulchalam and Farid Alam and Zafar Ali of South Chakdhala told reporters that Tumbru, Konarpara, Baishphandi, Tumbru Hedmanpara, Bhajabunia, Madhyampara, Uttarpara, Bazarpara and Gurjanbunia Sadar Union are bordering on this terrible tension. People from South Chakdhala, Sapmara Jhiri and Jamchari villages.
Meanwhile, upazila executive officer Salma Ferdous called an emergency meeting titled ‘What to do by public representatives in borderline situations’ in Naikshyongchari last Sunday. Jahangir Aziz, Chairman of Ghumdhum Union, said that due to the deterioration of the situation at the border, the administration is thinking of evacuating about 1500 people from 300 families if necessary.
However, it was informed in the meeting that it will be difficult to evacuate the families as there is no shelter in Ghumdhum Union. Apart from this there is no living environment in the schools. At this stage the meeting ended without any decision. People’s representatives said in the meeting that people are terrified by the loud sound of gunshots. Especially the SSC candidates are not even able to study because of fear.
They also said that border road work has been stopped for 15-20 days due to these shellings near the border. At the same time, the work of various gardens and farms on the border is also closed. As a result, hundreds of people are living inhumane lives. The upazila executive officer said in the meeting that the upper echelon of the government knows the issues. Efforts are underway to keep the border calm.
Acting Foreign Secretary Khurshed Alam told reporters that the government held a high-level meeting on the issue yesterday morning with all relevant authorities of the country. The BGB and Coast Guard have been asked to remain vigilant along the border. They have been told to be careful that the Rohingyas cannot enter through the sea.
There is no change in Myanmar’s behavior despite repeated protests through diplomatic channels and the BGB at the border, he said, ‘There is nothing we can do about it. As a responsible state, we are doing as much as possible to the neighbours. There is no weakness in our statement.’ The government is trying to keep Myanmar away from such activities in the future, he said, adding that ASEAN ambassadors in Dhaka are being informed about the situation.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan reiterated that a Rohingya from Myanmar will also be allowed to enter Bangladesh. He said these things to reporters at the secretariat.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also spoke about this in London. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Bangladesh is showing maximum restraint despite the effects of Myanmar’s conflict in its own region. He said this in a meeting with Sir Keir Starmer, head of the British Labor Party and leader of the opposition in London. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is currently in London on a four-day visit to attend the funeral of late British Queen Elizabeth II.
During the meeting between the two leaders, the Prime Minister briefed the Labor Party leader on how the prolonged presence of Rohingyas is burdening Bangladesh. They also discussed the recent armed conflict in Myanmar near the Bangladesh border. The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh is monitoring the situation with maximum restraint even after the impact of this conflict falls inside Bangladesh.
On the other hand, the UN has accused Myanmar’s military junta of indiscriminate killings and crimes against humanity. In a report last Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Office called for further disengagement of Myanmar’s military. The UN Human Rights Office has recommended member states impose targeted sanctions and halt arms sales to the Myanmar military’s business network to cut off foreign exchange earnings.
Unrest has gripped Myanmar since the military seized power in a coup in February last year. The military has been fighting pro-democracy resistance activists and arresting thousands of people opposed to the military regime. At the same time, the economy is struggling to cope with internal turmoil and pressure from international sanctions. In the report, they said, the international community should do everything in its power to support the people of Myanmar and financially isolate the country’s military.
The UN human rights office has said that countries around the world should do more to stop the flow of revenue and weapons to Myanmar’s military, which has oppressed and intimidated its people. According to a report by the news agency Reuters, the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union have imposed extensive sanctions on Myanmar, but the country’s trade with its neighbors continues and several countries continue to provide defense equipment to the junta. Despite China’s calls for an end to hostilities, Russia remains a close diplomatic ally of the country’s generals and has hosted Myanmar’s junta chief on three occasions since the coup.
According to the UN Human Rights Office report, Russia has provided fighter jets and armored vehicles to Myanmar, China has provided fighter and transport aircraft, Serbia has provided rockets and ammunition, and India has helped build a remote air defense station.
Forcing Myanmar to submit to peace will only be possible if any country ceases all aid and assistance to Myanmar’s military dictators under any pretext. But is that possible?
Author: Senior Journalist, Columnist.