Mutual respect, understanding can help overcome bilateral challenges

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  • Human habitation and building of any structure within 150 feet of the Myanmar-Bangladesh border is prohibited by bilateral agreement. Myanmar has demanded Bangladesh to remove bunkers and some houses on their side of the border in restricted areas as the construction violates the bilateral border agreement.
    It has been discovered that Bangladesh has been helping illegal occupants on the Myanmar side of the international border line in building shelters, which is a blatant violation of Myanmar’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. This action must stop immediately.
    We need cooperation from Bangladesh in removing structures recently built in the non-construction zone of the border line, since the construction of those structures breached Article 14 of the “Treaty between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the Demarcation of the Land Section of the Boundary North of the Naaf River” signed in 1998.
    While we are trying to solve the issues in good faith through bilateral cooperation, it is most regrettable that instead of fulfilling its commitment for repatriation of the displaced people as agreed upon in the bilateral agreements, the Bangladesh side has been deliberately making excuses one after another to stall the repatriation process. Bangladesh has been distorting the facts and telling the whole world that Myanmar is not willing to accept the return of the displaced persons.
    Bangladesh is altering the truth and vilifying the Government and the people of Myanmar to solicit international condemnation and to exert maximum political pressure on Myanmar. We need full and sincere cooperation of the Government of Bangladesh if the repatriation process is to be successful.
    Myanmar reiterated its readiness to accept the verified displaced people from Bangladesh and urged the Bangladeshi side to commence the repatriation of the earlier verified 778 Muslims and 444 Hindus as well as 1,101 verified persons (as of 2 May 2018) out of 8,032 persons received from the Bangladeshi side.
    We would like to urge Bangladesh to provide information on its readiness to commence the repatriation process including the completion of transit camps on the Bangladeshi side as well as the promotion of awareness among the prospective returnees on the bilateral agreements between the two countries and the agreed verification forms to be shared with them.
    We are seriously concerned that Bangladesh is unwittingly allowing extremists to operate in this part of the region. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is already gaining a foothold in the camps, and soon it will become a stronghold of terrorism and extremism. Recently, on 9 May, a group of 4 to 6 terrorists entered into one of the refugee camps in Balukali and dragged Mohamed Faisal Ulhaq, 46, out of the camp and stabbed him to death. It was reported that he was advocating for return of IDPs to Rakhine among fellow displaced people in the camp.
    Only a balanced and constructive approach will lead us to the right solution of the extremely complex and politically most sensitive problem of Rakhine State.
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