Dhaka summons Burmese ambassador over air strikes on border

In recent days, Myanmar's representative in Bangladesh has been summoned for the third time in a fortnight after missiles from the former Burma fell across the border. According to experts, this was a 'calculated provocation'. The situation in Burma's Rakhine State risks deteriorating. 



Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In the past two weeks, the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry has summoned the Burmese ambassador to Dhaka at least three times because of repeated violations of national airspace by the coup junta in Myanmar.

"During the meeting the ambassador was told that such activities are a serious threat to the security of peace-loving people, and a violation of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border agreement contrary to good neighbourly relations," the ministry said in a statement. 

Ambassador U Aung Kyaw Moe had already been summoned after bullets were fired along the border on 21 and 28 August. On those occasions he had been handed letters of protest to which the Myanmar military junta never replied.

On 1 February 2021, the Burmese army (also called the Tatmadaw) ousted the previous civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and started a brutal internal conflict. The anti-bully resistance consists of the People's Defence Forces (PDF, the armed wing of the Government of National Unity in exile) and ethnic militias, which have a historical presence in some of Myanmar's states. 

Last week, regime troops launched air strikes against the Arakan Army (Aa), the ethnic militia defending Rakhine State, and at least two rockets landed inside Bangladesh territory. The event was repeated on 3 September when two more rockets landed in a hilly area just six kilometres from the Cox's Bazar camps, home to more than one million Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar after the army's persecution of them in 2017.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam had said on 1 September that the country is ready to close its borders if the situation in Rakhine deteriorates. "We do not want to get into the provocation or trap of Myanmar," he had added.

Retired Lieutenant General Mahfuzur Rahman, when questioned by The Irrawaddy, maintains that the air strikes from Myanmar are a 'calculated provocation' on the part of the Burmese junta, aware that there is no will in Bangladesh for a military response to the crisis. As evidenced by the number of ambassador summonses (three in a few weeks), the regime does not show too much interest or concern about the air strikes.

According to researcher Altaf Parvej, Myanmar has asked Bangladesh not to harbour rebel fighters. At the moment there is no evidence that anti-golpe militiamen have found refuge in Bangladesh, however it is a possibility that cannot be ruled out considering the porousness of the border.

In late August, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan had told the New Age newspaper that the Myanmar army often carries out operations to chase rebels in Bangladesh, but such incidents have not had a major impact, adding that the official position of the Bangladesh government is not to harbour foreign fighters.