. Can Myanmar’s Threat To Bangladesh’s sovereignty At The Border Zone Destabilize The Regions? By Samina Akhter

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After a two-day shutdown, firing has resumed in Myanmar across the Ghumdhum border in Bandarban's Naikxyongchari upazila in Bangladesh since Tuesday (September 6) morning. Artillery and mortar shells are being fired intermittently.

According to media reports, for 23 consecutive days till last Saturday (September 03), fierce fighting between Myanmar security forces and the Arakan Army (AA), a rebel armed group in Rakhine State, has been going on. At that time, the government forces of Myanmar were firing from fighter jets and helicopters, throwing mortar shells and bombs at the targets of the Arkan Army. But the firing suddenly stopped last Sunday morning. There was no sound of firing from across the border for the past two days till Monday evening. Fighter jets and helicopters of the Myanmar security forces were not seen in the sky either. The sound of fresh gunfire since this morning has spread panic among the Rohingyas at the Naikshyongchari border and the Zero Line shelter camp.

Myanmar is one of Bangladesh's closest neighbors. Unfortunately, the country's behavior is not good neighborly. On August 25, 2017, Myanmar's army raided the Rakhine state and carried out indiscriminate killings of the Rohingya population, setting fire to their homes. In the face of this brutality, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled and took shelter in Bangladesh. Several lakhs of Rohingyas have come to Bangladesh from Myanmar at different times before. At present, the number of Rohingyas registered in various refugee camps in Bangladesh is 1.25 million. Myanmar has been reluctant to take back these Rohingyas. Bangladesh has to pay the price. Myanmar has been deceiving Bangladesh in many ways. 

Under the pretext of the ongoing conflict between the army and the Arakan Army, Myanmar has been strategically trying to expel the Rohingya from Rakhine. Rohingyas of several villages have already been ordered to leave the area. There is a fear of Rohingyas pouring into Bangladesh again. Such information has emerged in the reports of some Bangladeshi Bangla media which covers and monitors the conflict between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army. Those concerned say that effective action must be taken in this regard now, at least two lakh Rohingya will be deported again in the face of torture by the Myanmar army. And the destination of most of these Rohingyas will be Bangladesh. Bangladesh will have to face more crisis.

Accroding to media reports, 2 shells fired from Myanmar warplanes fell inside Bangladesh border. The incident took place on Saturday (September 3) at 9:30 am in the area between border pillars 40-41 under the jurisdiction of Reju Amtali BGB BOP of Ward No. 8 of Ghumdhum Union of Naikxyongchari Upazila of Bandarban.

Earlier, The Myanmar border security, Border Guard Police (BGP), reportedly hurled mortar shells at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari. The incident was reported from Tumbru no-man’s land on August 28 around 2pm. 

A helicopter of the Myanmar Army on Tuesday reportedly crossed the Bangladesh border and fired multiple shells on the hills at Ghumdhum union in Bandarban's Naikhongchari upazila.

Myanmar has been continuously violating the sovereignty of Bangladesh now a days. This is very unexpected.  No state has the right to violate the sovereignty of another state at the border. This is a clear violation of international law, norms, customs. The neighbourly relations between the two countries need to be taken into account by the authority of Myanmar. They have to understand that there is no war on the border. Arakan Army is their internal issue. It has right to do everything within its own jurisdiction.  But it must remember that Bangladesh is a sovereign state. Shelling alone towards border intentionally or unintentionally cannot be the answer. Myanmar has not any right to violate another state’s jurisdiction. This type of attitude is not acceptable in international community.

According to local sources, 2 warplanes and 2 fighting helicopters of the Myanmar Army arrived between border pillars 40-41 under Reju Amtali BGB BOP at 9:30 am. At this time, approximately 8 to 10 rounds were fired from the warplanes and approximately 30 to 35 rounds were also fired from the helicopter. 2 shells fired from warplanes fell approximately 120 meters inside Bangladesh along Border Pillar 40.

Besides, Tumbru BGB BOP border pillar 34-35 of Ward No. 1 of Naikxyongchari Upazila fired 4 rounds of heavy weapons from Tumbru Right Camp of Myanmar 2 BGP which is still ongoing. Even the Myanmar Muringajhiri Camp and Tumbru Right Camp are being fired intermittently by mortar fire.

The fact that two mortar shells fired from Myanmar earlier landed within the border of Bangladesh is unexpected. It has been reported that two mortar shells hit a sleepy populated area of Naikshyongchari upazila of Bandarban near Zero Point around 3 pm on Sunday. This spread panic among the locals. In this incident, Bangladesh protested by summoning the ambassador of Myanmar. It is not yet clear whether the mortar shelling was accidental or intentional. Local residents say that there has been shelling on the Myanmar border for several days. Despite the sound of gunfire and mortar shells ringing in the ears, it is hard to tell what is actually going on there. However, many residents of the area say that the Arakan Army has been fighting with the Myanmar army across the border in Rakhine state for more than two weeks. There was fierce fighting between the two sides from Sunday morning. At noon, Myanmar army helicopters and warplanes were seen circling the border. Meanwhile, there was a mortar shell incident on the border of Bangladesh. It should be noted that, a helicopter of the Myanmar security forces violated the airspace and returned to Bangladesh. The same thing happened time to time, day to day. The real cause of these incidents needs to be revealed quickly.

In this context, the incident of firing mortar shells by Myanmar inside the border of Bangladesh is exciting. For the sake of maintaining normal relations between the two countries, Myanmar should immediately take effective measures to stop all kinds of unwanted behavior from the border area - this is desirable.

Two mortar shells from Myanmar that landed on Bangladeshi soil on Sunday pose a threat to both Bangladesh's sovereignty and the bilateral relations between the two nations, where there has reportedly been intense combat between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military. The tragedy portends poorly for the stability of the region as well as Bangladesh and Myanmar. On Sunday afternoon, the shells struck Naikhyangchari in Bandarban but did not explode, causing alarm among the villagers in the Tumbru Uttar Para border region.

The shells are said to have been defused by the Border Guard Bangladesh's bomb disposal team. Bangladesh has every right to be extremely concerned about this issue since it views the incident, whether it was deliberate or not, as a challenge to Bangladesh's sovereignty and as having the potential to worsen bilateral relations. More than a million Rohingyas have left the turmoil in Rakhine and entered Bangladesh during the previous forty years; more than 700,000 of them entered the country only in 2017. As a result, the relationship between the two nations has already remained tense.

Since the two nations signed agreements, first in November 2017 and then in January 2018, repatriation attempts have stalled, primarily due to the unwillingness of the Myanmar government and a tense situation in Myanmar.

The mortar shells that were fired on Sunday are the most recent instance of Myanmar's blatant disrespect for Bangladesh's sovereignty, its bilateral relations with Bangladesh, and regional peace. The Myanmar government is not yet known to have acknowledged the occurrence or made clear their viewpoint. Such disdain was also evident when, in August and September 2017, Myanmar helicopters repeatedly violated Bangladeshi airspace, to which the Bangladeshi government vigorously objected.

The persistence of these occurrences, however, points to Myanmar's ongoing violation of international law. Additionally, it runs counter to friendly neighborly relations and may result in unanticipated events that are not in the interests of just Myanmar but also Bangladesh and other nearby nations. An unstable Rakhine region poses a threat to the safe and honorable return of the Rohingya population, and an unstable border poses a threat to those who live there. A stable and peaceful neighbor is always desired and, in fact, essential for any country. In order to protect the interests of both countries as well as the international community, Bangladesh's government must protest to its colleagues in Myanmar and demand an explanation for the mortar shell incident.

If Bangladesh wants, it can destabilize the whole region by supporting the insurgents’ groups of Myanmar. But Bangladesh does not support any kind of insurgency, provocation in the region because it believes in peaceful coexistence of every actor in the region. Myanmar must respect this Bangladesh’s peaceful attitude, mindset and mechanism. Myanmar must have knowledge that Bangladesh has also strong military, modern military logistics, support from international community and opportunities to support the insurgents of Myanmar. 

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) stepped up its vigilance along Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Bandarban area after two Myanmar mortar shells landed in an area near Tambru under Naikkhangchhari in Bandarban on Sunday afternoon.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Thursday said Bangladesh remains better prepared so that nobody can enter Bangladesh from Myanmar afresh due to deteriorated situation in Rakhine State.

Therefore, the Bangladeshi government strongly denounced the mortar shell event to the Myanmar government and must formally tell international and regional forums of both the most current and prior cases of international law violations. To make the locals feel comfortable, the government also strengthened security measures at the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

 

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