The South and Southeast region mustn’t be complicated further
By: Sumaiya Jannat
There have been frequent gunfire exchanges along Myanmar’s Naikhangchhari upazila’s border with Bangladesh for a number of days. A Rohingya resident of the border region has died. Additionally, there have been injuries in Bangladesh’s border villages. The local Bengali population and hill people are both alarmed by this abrupt development. This is the state of affairs in Bangladesh’s Tambru and Ghumdhum border regions.
On September 4, a fighter plane from Myanmar violated international law by flying over Bangladesh.
No justification for such conduct on the part of Myanmar has been provided.
Through the Myanmar ambassador, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry voiced serious objections four times, but it does not appear that the problem received much attention. Myanmar’s counter explanation is completely unacceptable.
The Arakan Army (AA) of Rakhine and the purported rebel group of Rohingyas, ARSA, are held responsible for their confrontations with the Myanmar Army Tatmadaw, according to the statement sent by the military administration there to Bangladesh’s ambassador to Myanmar, Manjurul Karim, a few days ago.
Bangladesh was charged with supporting these organizations by Myanmar as well. This offense must be corrected. Whose helicopters and fighter jets had breached the airspace if the Arakan Army was firing from within Bangladesh? It makes no sense for ARSA to remain in touch with AA. Since 2009, AA has been fighting for the independence of the entire Arakan region, even before the so-called Rohingya organization ARSA was established (Rakhine region).
It is true that the Arakan Army’s soldier strength has grown. They currently number in excess of 30,000. For Arakan’s complete independence, they are engaged in an all-out guerilla war against the junta-run government and army of Myanmar. AA has been fighting in the first phase in Mrauk-U, the capital of the once autonomous Arakan, which includes North Rakhine, especially in the areas near the borders with Bangladesh and the Chin state.
In Copper Bazar, south of Maungdaw, they allegedly overran an army installation and killed 30 troops there. Along the Naikhangchhari boundary, they have also taken control of a paramilitary outpost and the area between pillars 34 and 40. To retake the territory, counterattacks are conducted often.
In addition to these regions, AA has also taken high ground from the Myanmar army in the Paletwa region, 18 to 20 kilometers south of the Bangladeshi border. The Myanmar army is attempting to retake these districts by utilizing artillery. Even more so than they did along Bangladesh’s border, they are employing fighter jets. The Indian Kaladan project is in this area, and AA seeks to increase its influence. Here is where the major AA base is located, and the supply route is quite handy. Furthermore, it is difficult to reach the area.
The spokesperson for United League of Arakan (ULA), the political arm of the Arakan Alliance (AA), released a statement on the shooting, killing, and injuries in Bangladesh on September 17. The message included both the location and the names of those killed on September 16th. According to the statement, the military junta was committing atrocities against “freedom fighters” in the ongoing conflict in Arakan at the same time as it had started the genocide against the Arakan Muslims.
Recent developments indicate that AA and ULA are willing to recognize Rohingyas as Arakan Muslims. This was also clear from this comment. ULA claims that the Myanmar junta troops are to fault for the torture and eviction of the Arakan Muslims.
Several accounts claim that AA had boosted its personnel strength, training, and heavy weaponry over the course of about two years. There has been preparation for a full-scale conflict. In order to combat them, Myanmar is using its air force.
The Bangladeshi government is responsible for defending its population from conflict between the two parties in Myanmar in bordering areas.
Due to this, fighter jets and helicopters have breached Bangladesh’s airspace. In addition to Rakhine, the Chin, Karen, and Kachin regions are all seeing conflict between rebels and the junta government. It appears like a civil war may soon erupt within the Myanmar junta.
According to outward appearances, AA or its political front ULA is progressively strengthening its position in Rakhine or Arakan. The tweet from Kyaw Lynn, a spokesperson for the AA political front, that made reference to the press conference on September 18 reflects this. He asserted that in order to resolve the continuing (Rohingya) issue, the world community, including Bangladesh, would have to recognize ULA as the primary player.
In order to resolve the Rohingya situation, negotiations in Arakan or Rakhine must include the ULA. The AA and ULA appear to be open to accepting the Rohingya as Arakan Muslims.
In conclusion, it is the duty of the Bangladeshi government to safeguard its residents from fighting between the two sides in Myanmar in bordering communities. The only way to have Myanmar cease promoting fear along the border and uphold international conventions along the international borders is via diplomatic efforts rather than by war or any other kind of military action.
The Bangladeshi government will be obligated to take any necessary steps to safeguard the safety of the border and the populace if diplomatic attempts fail. Any military conflict there will, however, undoubtedly destabilize the area. We aspire to a peaceful resolution to every issue. We do not want the return of the Rohingyas to encounter any more protracted difficulties.
The writer is Chittagong-based NGO activist, currently working in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar area.