With mortar shells repeatedly landing in Bangladesh territory from Myanmar amid violation of airspace, Dhaka on Tuesday sought intervention of the international community so that Myanmar cannot create instability in the region.
While briefing foreign diplomats at state guesthouse Padma, acting Foreign Secretary Rear Admiral (retd) Md Khurshed Alam said Bangladesh also sought global support to ensure that Myanmar cannot ignore the demand for Rohingya repatriation taking advantage of the current situation.
The diplomats also assured that their respective countries will support Bangladesh at the United Nations over the issue.
At the briefing, the Bangladesh government conveyed its concerns over possible instability in the region to the diplomats stationed in Dhaka and briefed them on the current situation in bordering areas with Myanmar.
Replying to a query, Khurshed Alam said the Myanmar side always makes common claims that the mortar shells that landed in the Bangladesh territory were launched by Myanmar’s internal insurgent groups -- Arakan Army and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). According to the international laws, Myanmar Army’s action within eight kilometres of the border is unlawful and it is also prohibited to shoot at Bangladesh’s border.
At the briefing, sources said, the foreign diplomats also expressed their concerns over the issue, saying Myanmar’s most recent attacks are disrespectful to Bangladesh’s sovereignty, bilateral relations between the two countries and regional peace.
Highlighting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s position on terrorism, the acting foreign secretary said Bangladesh is working with a lot of patience and it did not do anything that might lead to Myanmar’s mortar shells landing inside its territory, impacting lives and livelihoods of Bangladeshis.
Khurshed Alam also said Bangladesh does not want to give Myanmar any chance to avoid Rohingya repatriation.
The foreign diplomats assured Bangladesh of conveying its concerns to their capitals and helping Bangladesh, if needed, by raising the issue at the UN.
“We briefed the diplomats on our prime minister’s zero-tolerance stance on terrorism and that Bangladesh never allows anyone to use its land to destabilise the region,” the acting foreign secretary said, adding that Bangladesh also told the Myanmar envoy to take actions so that no mortar shells land in the Bangladesh territory.
Earlier on Monday, Bangladesh briefed the heads of missions from the Southeast Asian countries telling them about the prevailing situation at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
It made a similar request to the envoys of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to use their leverage so that mortar shells from Myanmar do not come to Bangladesh.
Earlier, Bangladesh summoned Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka Aung Kyaw Moe for the fourth time and strongly protested Myanmar’s violation of border and airspace and the landing of mortar shells inside the Bangladesh territory.
Meanwhile, the Myanmar government on Monday invited Bangladesh Ambassador in Myanmar Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury, explained the border situation and shifted the blame onto Arakan Army and ARSA for the volatile situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Ghumdhum, Naikhongchhari in Bandarban district.
Myanmar also claimed that the two groups have created the ongoing situation in the border area to destroy the “cordial relations” between the two countries.
While explaining the border situation to the Bangladesh envoy, Director-General of Strategic Studies and Training Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zaw Phyo Win said Arakan Army and ARSA members attacked with mortar shells Border Guard Police’s border outpost No. 31 at Taung PyoWell on September 16.
Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry on its Facebook page on Monday night disclosed that three mortar shells fell inside the Bangladesh territory during that attack. Besides that, Arakan Army and ARSA members on September 16-17 carried out separate attacks with mortar shells on BGP’s border outpost No. 34 at Taung PyoWell. At that time, nine mortar shells fell inside the Bangladesh territory.
Mentioning the two incidents, Zaw Phyo Win emphasised that the two insurgent groups carried out the shootings near the border fencing of the two countries to destroy the “cordial relationship” between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
He further said Myanmar always follows the bilateral agreements and international laws while taking necessary security measures near the border of the two countries. Alongside this, the country respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, including Bangladesh.
Assuring Bangladesh of Myanmar’s cooperation in maintaining peace along the borders of the two countries, Zaw Phyo Win sought full cooperation of the Bangladesh side.