Skip to main content

Will Sheikh Hasina's Delhi visit focus on role of China in Myanmar-Bangladesh conflict?

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan* 

Myanmar has been 'inciting war' on the Bangladesh border for several days. Last Saturday (September 3), bullets and mortar shells were fired from Myanmar army helicopters across the border in Naikkyangchari. According to media reports, two shells of Myanmar's security forces came within 120 meters of Bangladesh territory near the zero line at Naikshyongchari border in Bandarban. The two shells exploded in the uninhabited hills, but no casualties were reported.
Earlier on August 28, two mortar shells landed in the populated area of ​​Ghumdhumpara, north of Naikshyongchari. However, there were no casualties as the two shells did not explode. The next day, the army's expert team defused it. Two days later on August 30, a Myanmar helicopter entered the Bangladesh border. A Myanmar helicopter was seen circling several times within 3-400 yards of the Baishfandari border of Ghumdhum Union at noon on that day, the local public representative told reporters.
It may be recalled that Myanmar violated the airspace of Bangladesh in July 2018 as well. In August 2017, after hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to escape the Myanmar army's ethnic cleansing, Myanmar helicopters flew over Bangladesh's airspace at least three times. Even then, Bangladesh officially protested.
This time, too, the country's ambassador was summoned and warned against the firing of mortar shells and bullets on the territory of Bangladesh and the violation of the Bangladeshi airspace by Myanmar's helicopters.
Bandarban Superintendent of Police said that law enforcement agencies including Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) are on alert and intelligence surveillance has also been increased near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Last Thursday, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam told reporters that the government is planning to inform the diplomatic community about the situation in the border area of ​​Rakhine State with the Arakan Army in the border area and to prevent Myanmar nationals from entering Bangladesh. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said, "We do not want to step into Myanmar's provocation or trap."
In October 2017, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said that she was careful to avoid inciting war on the part of Myanmar amid the Rohingya crisis. She said, “Our very neighbour, at one stage showed such an attitude; there will be a war with us, something like that. I warned our army, border guard, police to not get distracted by any provocation. Until I direct.”
The question is, why is Myanmar firing mortar shells and bullets on the border of Bangladesh and violating the airspace?
It is reported that Myanmar security forces have been fighting with the Arakan Army (AA), a rebel group of Myanmar, for more than two weeks. Shelling is especially frequent in the Walidong Hills near the Reju Amtali border. That's why there is panic on the border of Bangladesh. Especially in border-adjacent areas, those doing jumchas cannot even go to jumkaz for fear of being shot at.
However, is this the only reason is the fight with the Arakan Army, or is there also a calculation of regional geopolitics? It is also necessary to think and what will be the strategy or strategy of Bangladesh in such a provocation; summoning the ambassador of Myanmar will have limited impact.
The constitution of Bangladesh (Article 25) states in the foreign policy of the state, 'Respect for national sovereignty and equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, peaceful resolution of international disputes and respect for the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter -- these principles shall be the basis of the international relations of the state.'
In response, Bangladesh may not fire mortar shells and bullets on the Myanmar border, but the language of protest must be different. We have to talk to those who are friends of Bangladesh. Bangladesh should raise the issue in the international arena and conduct diplomatic activities instead of merely expressing formal protest.
China's big friend in the region is Myanmar, and Bangladesh has a bilateral complication with Myanmar over Rohingyas
Bangladesh is very important in the dominance strategy of India and China in the region. Bangladesh has good relations with both China and India. Both these countries are development partners of Bangladesh and Bangladesh is important to both of them in geopolitical and economic rivalry, especially the sea of ​​Bangladesh. That is why India gets angry when Bangladesh gets closer to China. When Bangladesh gets closer to India, China gets upset.
Since China's big friend in the region is Myanmar, and Bangladesh has a bilateral complication with Myanmar over the Rohingya issue, Myanmar has a mentality of not caring about anyone in the world on the Rohingya issue. Since the issue of Rohingya repatriation has recently been discussed anew, it is also necessary to think whether these equations are also playing a role behind the instigation of Myanmar's war on the Bangladesh border.
The matter needs to be brought up in the regional forum. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in Delhi and will have talks with her counterpart Narendra Modi. Delhi has good relations with Myanmar. It needs to be raised during the Prime Minister's visit. It needs to be discussed even in the UN General Assembly and Security Council.
Myanmar wants to provoke Bangladesh. There is no reason not to understand it. They want Bangladesh involved in conflict. Myanmar wants to bring the Rohingya issue to the fore through conflict. But this crisis will not be resolved through conflict. The crisis will increase.
Maybe they want to complicate the matter so that the return of Rohingyas can be delayed further. They see benefits if they can disturb Bangladesh with conflict or military action. That is why, Bangladesh should bring the issue to the international forum as soon as possible. If this can be done, there will be a kind of pressure on Myanmar.
From the behavior of Myanmar in the last few years, we have to understand that they want Bangladesh to be involved in the conflict. Myanmar wants to bring the Rohingya issue to the fore through conflict. But this crisis will not be resolved through conflict. The crisis will increase. It took ups and downs to make Bangladesh an enemy.
The body language of Bangladesh was not right in the beginning. We have approached the solution bilaterally. We could not bring the issue of genocide in a big way. We could have taken it up in the international forum. We entered into a bilateral agreement two months back, but there was no deadline for taking back the Rohingyas.
---
*Development worker and independent researcher, Dhaka

Comments

TRENDING

'Very low rung in quality ladder': Critique of ICMR study on 'sudden deaths' post-2021

By Bhaskaran Raman*  Since about mid-2021, a new phenomenon of extreme concern has been observed throughout the world, including India : unexplained sudden deaths of seemingly healthy and active people, especially youngsters. In the recently concluded Navratri garba celebrations, an unprecedented number of young persons succumbed to heart attack deaths. After a long delay, ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) has finally has published a case-control study on sudden deaths among Indians of age 18-45.

SC 'appears to foster' culture of secrecy, does not seek electoral bond details from SBI

By Rosamma Thomas*  In its order of November 2, 2023 on the case of Association for Democratic Reforms vs Union of India contesting constitutional validity of electoral bonds, the Supreme Court directed all political parties to give particulars of the bonds received by them in sealed covers to the Election Commission of India. SC sought that information be updated until September 2023. 

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Only 12% of schools RTE compliant: Whither 6% budgetary allocation for education?

By Ambarish Rai* Despite Indian state’s commitment of 6% GDP on education, the Finance Minister completely ignored right to education for children and strengthening implementation of RTE Act which makes education a fundamental right in her budget speech . The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, which is a collective of different stakeholders in education, condemns this neglect of a legal entitlement, which is unconstitutional and demand for overall increase in the budget to ensure improvement in learning outcomes and overall enhancement of quality education.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Reject WHO's 'draconian' amendments on pandemic: Citizens to Union Health Minister

By Our Representative  Several concerned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister to reject amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA75) in May 2022, apprehending this will make the signatories surrender their autonomy to the “unelected, unaccountable and the whimsical WHO in case of any future ‘pandemics’.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Union Health Ministry, FSSAI 'fail to respond' to NHRC directive on packaged food

By Our Representative  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the adverse health effects caused by packaged foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Recognizing it as a violation of the Right to Life and Right to Health of Indian citizens, the quasi-judicial body called for a response from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding its selection of front-of-pack labels aimed at providing consumers with information to make healthier choices.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

Inside a UK asbestos factory in 1994 before the mineral was banned By Rajiv Shah “The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.