Myanmar, Bangladesh Officials Discuss Border Security in Dhaka

By Muktadir Rashid   7 January 2020

DHAKA—A series of top-level border security meetings between officials from Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) and the Myanmar Police Force continued in Dhaka on Tuesday, with officials from the two countries pledging to find ways to tackle armed and terrorist groups on the border, and Rohingya-related crimes.

The Bangladesh side raised the issue of the planting of landmines along the international boundary and urged that a solution be found, pointing out that a number of unarmed people have been killed by the devices in recent months.

The officials have also discussed halting illegal drug flows, prevention of illegal entry of Myanmar nationals into Bangladesh, fire control in border areas, the handing over to the respective authorities of those found crossing the international border illegally, exchange of border-related information on security and law and order, and joint patrols, according to a press statement issued by BGB headquarters on Sunday.

Lieutenant Colonel Mohiuddin Ahmed, director of operations at BGB headquarters, said a joint record of the discussion would be finalized on Wednesday.

Myanmar Police Force officials assured their BGB counterparts that Myanmar would facilitate the building of a road along the international boundary and would continue joint patrols to curb cross-border crime, the Bangladesh officials said.

BGB director general Major General Shafeenul Islam is leading the 14-member Bangladesh delegation, while Police Brigadier General Myo Than of the Myanmar Police Force heads the eight-member team from his country in the seventh such top-level conference. The meetings are usually held twice a year.

The seventh meeting began on Sunday and will formally conclude on Wednesday with the signing of joint records of discussion. The Myanmar delegation is due to leave Dhaka on Thursday.

The BGB arranged a familiarization trip to Sylhet, near the Indian border, for the Myanmar delegation.

A senior BGB official, seeking anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the press, said, “We want smooth relations with our counterparts in Myanmar.”

The official said the aim of the summit was to improve the border security situation and follow up on decisions taken at previous meetings.

Another official, however, acknowledged that there was “mistrust” among the two countries’ forces. However, he said, “Things are getting changed by discussion.”

“Cooperating with us will also help them to secure their land,” the official said.

Apart from high-ranking BGB officials, representatives of Bangladesh’s Home and Foreign ministries and Department of Narcotics Control are taking part in the meetings.

No one at the Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka was available for comment, but a joint press conference is scheduled to be held at BGB headquarters on Wednesday.

Another Bangladeshi official said the Myanmar border force was reluctant to discuss the landmine issue, despite the fact that a number of Bangladeshi and Rohingya people moving around the border areas have been injured in landmine explosions.

Between Aug. 31 and Nov. 28, 2019, at least four people were killed and two injured in landmine explosions in Naikhanchhari in Bangladesh’s border district of Bandarban, according to sources at the Bangladeshi Home Ministry.

As reported by Dhaka-based daily New Age, Dhaka has accused Myanmar’s border security forces of planting mines along the border to prevent displaced Rohingya people from returning, a charge Myanmar rejects.

Rights group Amnesty International claims to have evidence of what appears to be the targeted use of landmines along a narrow stretch of the northwestern border of Rakhine State. Anti-personnel mines are banned under the global Mine Ban Treaty of 1997.

BGB officials say the smuggling of “yaba” methamphetamine tablets continues despite repeated assurances from their counterparts in Myanmar that they are working to halt it.

The BGB said it seized 9,217,687 tablets in 2019.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Thursday that the reason the yaba smuggling had not been stopped was that neighboring Myanmar had failed to live up to its commitments.

“Myanmar promised on several occasions that they would look into the issue and take steps to stop yaba smuggling, but they haven’t taken any initiative so far,” the Bangladeshi minister was quoted as saying by New Age.

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