Myanmar-Bangladesh Meet to Take up Rohingya Refugees Issue
Traumatised Rohingya Refugees Flee Myanmar in Boats
NEW DELHI: Local media reports suggest that the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, border management, human trafficking, trade and investment, and coastal shipping will be the key areas of discussion during the upcoming secretary-level Myanmar-Bangladesh talks, scheduled to be held in Dhaka on August 31.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs U Thant Kyaw will lead their respective sides in the talks, which will also discuss plans for security dialogues, import of gas, cooperation in the areas of education and agriculture, and confidence-building measures between the two sides.
The talks come as tensions escalated between the two countries, with Bangladesh lodging a protest over what it called an “unprovoked attack” against its border guards on 30 May. The clash followed a killing of a Bangladeshi border guard on patrol on 28 May.
Myanmar in turn issued a different version of events, saying that incident on 28 May involved "two suspected armed Bengalis in yellow camouflage uniform who entered into Myanmar territory" in Maungdaw Township. Acknowledging that one was killed whilst the other disappeared into Bangladeshi territory, the Myanmar Foreign Ministry said that it will not stand for any violation of its territorial sovereignty.
In the Bangladeshi version of events, the head of of Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB), Major General Aziz Ahmed, said that the body handed over on 28 May was that of guard Mizanur Rahman, 43, who had gone missing. Referring to "unprovoked eruption of gunfire from the Myanmar border force,” the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry statement said, “The Myanmar Ambassador was told that a BGB team was waiting near border pillar no. 52 for identification of the dead body which was proposed by the Myanmar side. However, to the complete surprise of the BGB, Myanmar border forces suddenly started firing on the waiting BGB team without any provocation.”
Myanmar issued its own version of events, with the Myanmar Foreign Ministry stating, "There was no BGB team patrolling along the border ... on that day, as claimed by the Bangladesh side.” Arguing that the allegation that Myanmar opened fire was “far from reality,” the statement added that the clothing worn by the man who was killed did not match the BGB uniform.
The two countries share a 190-kilometre border, and have had occasionally strained bilateral relations on the issue of Rohingya Muslims - a minority community persecuted and Myanmar leading to an influx of immigrants into Bangladesh. The BGB patrol was based near a Rohingya refugee camp, and unconfirmed reports on the Myanmar News Portal told the police in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township that the incident involved the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), a militant group that they alleged was based in Bangladesh. “The killed man was said to be a RSO member,” The Irrawaddy Magazine stated.
Myanmar’s claim that the men were not wearing BGB uniforms and the use of the term “Bengali” - often used to refer to Rohingyas in Myanmar, point to the fact that the Myanmar version is in accordance with the reports that the man killed was an RSO member.