Missing Myanmar Border Guard Officer Found in Bangladesh Still Waiting Return

By Muktadir Rashid   28 January 2019

DHAKA — Bangladesh had yet to return as of Saturday a Myanmar Border Guard Police officer who went missing last week and was found two days later wandering around intoxicated in Bangladesh.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) says Constable Aung Bo Bo Thein, 28, with Myanmar’s No. 5 Border Guard Police branch, was “rescued” in the Banhatirachhara region of Bandarban District on Thursday morning. It says the constable had gone missing while on duty on Tuesday and was found “drunk” and wandering “aimlessly” about 3.5 km from the border.

“We are ready to hand him over as soon as we finish the formalities,” BGB Ramu Region commander Brigadier General Ainul Morshed Khan Pathan said Saturday, adding that he was already in contact with his counterparts in Myanmar about the officer.

Brig. Gen. Ainul did not elaborate on what those formalities were. A BGB official in Dhaka, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said the handover was still waiting for approval from the Foreign Ministry.

A Foreign Ministry official told Dhaka-based daily the New Age on Friday that the agency was waiting for a formal request for the constable’s return from Myanmar.

The neighbors have handed over border guard officers before.

In June 2015 Myanmar handed over a BGB officer it had abducted a few days earlier during a firefight between border guard patrols from each country along the Naf River, which marks part of the border between the two countries. In July of the same year the BGB said it had rescued a Myanmar soldier who was believed to have been abducted by the Arakan Army, a separatist rebel group in Myanmar.

Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled western Myanmar for Bangladesh, following a military crackdown in Rakhine State triggered by militant attacks on police posts in the area.

According to rights activist Nur Khan Liton, who has helped record the Rohingya refugees’ testimonies, some of the refugees claim that the rescued constable had participated in some of the Myanmar security forces’ alleged rights abuses.

“At least two Rohingya victims told us that this private was posted in the Taugbazar area of Buthidaung [Township] with the [Border Guard Police] and that his team members were involved in the massive attacks, killings, torture and arson against Rohingya in the past,’ said Nur Khan.

He urged the Bangladeshi government to interrogate the constable about Myanmar’s alleged ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and arrange to have his testimony recorded at the International Criminal Court for use in any future prosecution of the country’s leaders.

Bangladesh shares a 271-km border with Myanmar, more than half of which is unprotected, according to the BGB.