Burma, Bangladesh at Odds over Deadly Border Clash
By Aung Hla Tun and Ruma Paul 2 June 2014
RANGOON / DHAKA — Bangladesh has lodged a protest with Burma over what it called an unprovoked attack against its border guards by Burmese security forces on May 30, following an earlier exchange of fire in which one Bangladeshi guard was killed.
Burma has given a different version of events and has warned Bangladesh it will not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty or territory.
Maj-Gen Aziz Ahmed, head of Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB), told reporters on Saturday that a body handed over by the Burmese side was that of guard Mizanur Rahman, 43, who had gone missing on May 28.
In a statement on Saturday, the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry said it had called in Burma’s ambassador to protest at an “unprovoked eruption of gunfire from the Myanmar border force” on May 30.
“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,” it said.
Burma’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that the first incident on May 28 involved Burmese troops and “two suspected armed Bengalis in yellow camouflage uniform who entered into Myanmar territory” in Maungdaw Township. One was killed and the other fled into Bangladesh, it said.
Many in Burma, including government officials, use the term “Bengali” to refer to Rohingya people, hundreds of thousands of whom live in the northwestern state of Arakan.
They are seen by Burma as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They are denied citizenship and increasingly live in segregated camps after outbreaks of communal violence over the past two years.
“There was no BGB team patrolling along the border … on that day, as claimed by the Bangladesh side,” Burma’s Foreign Ministry said. It denied that Burmese troops opened fire on any BGB members and said the clothing worn by the man who was killed did not match the BGB uniform.
On the May 30 incident, it said Burma had asked the BGB to “fetch the dead body at the Boundary Pillar 52 where the exchange of fire had occurred.” The allegation that the Burma side started to fire was “far from the reality,” it added.
Bangladesh’s statement noted a reported deployment of Burmese forces along the border and said that violated a 1980 agreement, so the forces should be withdrawn.
It added that Burma should not “allow any action that may affect the friendly bilateral relations” between the two.
For its part, Burma said it would “resort to diplomatic means to solve problems peacefully in view of existing bilateral friendly relations and good neighborliness.”