Politics

USDP Proposes Building a Brick Wall Along Burma-Bangladesh Border

By Moe Myint 26 December 2016

RANGOON – A Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) proposal to build a solid wall along Burma’s western border was recorded on parliamentary record in the Arakan State regional legislature on Monday.

U Zaw Zaw Myint, a USDP lawmaker representing Buthidaung Constituency (1), submitted the proposal last week, and a debate on the issue was held on Monday. He recommended that a brick wall  30-40 feet high and five to 10 feet thick be built to separate Burma from Bangladesh.

Border walls are being suggested as security measures in Western democracies, U Zaw Zaw Myint pointed out, as a way to prevent migrants from entering countries illegally. In the US, President-Elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to build a nearly 2,000-mile wall along the country’s southern border with Mexico, a proposal which has been widely criticized in the US as logistically and financially unviable, as well as inhumane.

Three Arakan State legislators came out in support of the USDP lawmaker’s proposal, according to parliamentarian U Hla Aung Nyunt of Minbya Township Constituency (1), who spoke to The Irrawaddy on Monday.

On behalf of the Arakan State cabinet, security and border affairs minister Col. Htein Lin suggested that the House Speaker record the proposal and explain how they are protecting the Arakan State border in Maungdaw Township; the area was the site of militant attacks on border police outposts in October, and subsequent Burma Army clearance operations.

Instead of specifying in the proposal that brick be used to construct the wall, Col. Htein Lin recommended that the wording be changed to express a general desire for a better security system. He pointed out that the Arakan State government is currently installing a barbed wire fence in Maungdaw, an initiative introduced under the country’s previous USDP-led government.

Wire fencing has been completed on a stretch of around 127 miles. Col. Htein Lin added that border patrol routes would be linked with the main road for 200 miles, and 52 checkpoints are already set up.

“I am not objecting to the proposal because our work is in progress. So I would like to keep it as a record,” said Col. Htein Lin.

Parliamentarian U Hla Aung Nyunt said that U Zaw Zaw Myint accepted this suggestion.

“The proposer agreed to the recommendation of Col. Htein Lin and urged the parliament to keep monitoring the Maungdaw case,” said U Hla Aung Nyunt.

Last week, authorities outlined a controversial  plan to securitize the area in the wake of the October attacks on border police posts. Last week, border police head Brig-Gen Thura San Lwin told media of the proposed expansion of seven ethnic Arakanese communities in the Maungdaw border region in an effort to increase the Buddhist population in a predominantly Muslim area.

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