Myanmar’s abuse of UN laws dangerously threatens Bangladesh’s security

Published : Tuesday, 13 February, 2024 at 12:00 AM

Myanmars civil conflict continues to spill over into Bangladesh, with troops crossing the border and shells landing on Bangladeshi soil. Over 320 members of the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) were detained and imprisoned by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after they crossed the border illegally into Bangladesh. Beyond that, the soldiers of Myanmar are currently waging a continuous war over the southeast region of Bangladesh. Bangladeshs security is now seriously threatened and it calls for both ensuring border readiness and diplomatic solutions.

Five nations border Myanmar – Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. The length of Myanmars land borders is 6,523 km. The Bangladesh-Myanmar border stands at around 270 km. Myanmar has a 1,468 km long border with India, 2,145 km long with China, 238 km long with Laos and its longest 2,416 km long with Thailand.

The border regions with Myanmar have always been at risk, even before the most recent surge of violence. The relations between Dhaka and Naypyidaw have occasionally been tarnished by the ethnic Rohingyas repeated expulsions from northern Rakhine State into Bangladeshi territory since 1978, as well as by Myanmar forces violations of Bangladeshs airspace, land, and maritime borders, as well as their murders of civilians and troops in Bangladesh, and their territorial claims in Bangladesh.

The bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Myanmar have been strained since August 2017 due to the over 1.3 million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh and Myanmars unwavering reluctance to repatriate them. The relationship between Bangladesh and Myanmar has become even more complex after a full-scale civil war broke out in May 2021 in Myanmar between the government headed by the military and the exiled National Unity Government (NUG), which is in tandem with several ethnic armed groups.



The Arakan Army, which was founded in 2009, the Taang National Liberation Army (TNLA), which has been in operation since 1992, and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which was founded in 1989, formed the Three Brotherhood Alliance, on October 27, 2023, and initiated a multi-pronged offensive against the government of Myanmar under the codename Operation 1027 along with its allies. Since then, the BGP and the Myanmar Armed Forces have engaged in heavy combat with the ethnic RakhineArakan Army in the states of Rakhine and Chin. These groups are actually operating for a long time for their freedom or demands but recently they joined hands. Notably, these groups mostly uphold communist ideologies.

Bangladesh has suffered as the increase in violence in Rakhine State has resulted in a notable reduction in Bangladeshs bilateral trade with Myanmar. Over 320 personnel from the Myanmar forces crossed into Bangladesh illegally. Furthermore, because of the escalation of the conflict across the border in recent weeks, two Bangladeshi residents have been killed and several more were wounded in Myanmar forces attacks; houses and vehicles were damaged;about 3,000citizens were compelled to leave their homes; movements are restricted and schools have been closed.

Myanmar military juntas actions in the recent civil war have brought up a humanitarian crisis and may lead to another significant wave of refugees entering Bangladesh. Already, a few Rakhine State citizens have sought refuge in Bangladesh after the current conflict started. Numerous Rohingyas are said to have moved close to Bangladeshs border as a result of the current unrest, with the apparent intention of entering Bangladeshi territory.

The repatriation of Rohingya has been further delayed by the worsening of conflict in Myanmar. According to recent statements made by the NUG, the Rohingya will only be allowed to return home if the Naypyidaw administration has been toppled. The military junta is willing to repatriate the Rohingyas. But as they committed continuous genocide and ethnic cleansing and did not respond to the repatriation effort for the last 7 years, it is hard to believe them now.

UN member states are prohibited from using force in their international affairs unless it is necessary for self-defense, as stated in UN Charter Article 2(4) and Article 51. To date, Myanmar has attacked Bangladeshi territory multiple times, killing Bangladeshi citizens in the process. Furthermore, troops from Myanmar have unlawfully entered Bangladeshi land. Moreover, the government of Myanmars violent ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in 1978, 1991-1992, and 2017 and the crises these genocidal campaigns caused upon Bangladesh, a neighbor, were flagrant violations of international law. Right now, Myanmar is breaking international law once more in regards to Bangladesh and even India.

According to Article 3 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, no state has the right to intervene directly or indirectly in a non-international armed conflict in another state. Bangladesh has adhered to its traditional foreign policy ideals by remaining strictly neutral in the Myanmar war while carefully abiding by international law. Moreover, Bangladesh has hosted the absconded Myanmar soldiers and is ready to return them as per the Geneva Convention.Bangladesh is also looking to China and India for assistance in keeping the current crisis under control.

China has been attempting, though with little success, to break the impasse between the disputing parties. China always had cordial ties with both the rebel organizations and all of current and previous Myanmars regimes. The insurgents are allegedly utilizing Chinese weaponry. Furthermore, China appears to be endorsing the rebels communist characteristics. Furthermore, analysts propose that Chinas involvement in this conflict has increased as a result of the Wests ploy to control bordering areas in South and Southeast Asia through the patronage of a Kuki-Chin state.

Bangladesh is in a bit of political dilemma due to the current conflict. It needs to maintain good diplomatic relations with the Myanmar government to repatriate the Rohingyas as well as to safeguard its border from further influx. But choosing sides is very difficult now as many suggest that the military junta has not used its full force, which is centered in its capital, till now despite the rebel groups low to mid-scale battlefield win. Moreover, if defeated, theArakan Army rebels may flee to Bangladesh. In addition, worries exist that a further 500,000 Rohingyasmay be forced into Bangladesh.Hence, it is critical for Bangladesh to observe the situation while keeping itself prepared for any situation.

The recent events show that border security in Bangladesh is still weak, and if more border guards, soldiers, or refugees enter the nation, it will be more challenging to negotiate their repatriation to Myanmar.On the other hand, increasing unrest within Myanmar and along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar has the potential to destabilize the entire region, including South and Southeast Asia.

The internal disputes of Myanmar are ongoing for decades and it has turned into a failed state with huge genocide and ethnic cleansing. This time the atrocities are not driven by religious ambitions rather than ideological. The heat is being felt by not only Bangladesh but also by India and China. The US policy and Burma Act is also playing a part here as China has heavily invested in Myanmar and the US can achieve an edge through this conflict. But through all these geopolitics, the humanity will suffer.

In the South and Southeast Asia region, Bangladesh has truly upheld the secular characteristics. These conflicts in Myanmar started with violating the secularism. Currently, even inside the rebel groups of Myanmar, there are people from different religions and ethnicities. If the political environment changes in Myanmar, they should adopt the policies of secularism just like Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh and India needs to safeguard its own border without engaging in any hostility while settling issues diplomatically as per the UNs charters. Other global players like; China, US or Russia is now heavily patronizing war economy and hence, they might not be proactive to end this conflict. Moreover, the tenure of the military junta in Myanmar is reaching its end. Hence, they may try to keep the conflict alive to portray their needs for the country. They have already made it mandatory for all citizens to serve in the military.

Nevertheless, the international community should be inspired to adopt the required actions outlined in the UN Charter to stop the atrocities emanating from Myanmar by the shared objectives of protecting international law and guaranteeing regional and global security. Global leaders ought to move quickly to broker a settlement between the disputing parties. Ultimately, safeguarding humankind and national sovereignty continue to be of paramount significance.

The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla

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