Myanmar

Myanmar’s audacious military coup: Two Years On

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Today is 1st February 2023. The daring military takeover in Myanmar two years ago on February 1 will be remembered as the start of the most oppressive administration in recent memory on February 1, 2023. The situation in Myanmar has deteriorated drastically since February 2021, and a civil war between the military and the pro-democracy front is still raging. The years 2021 and 2022 were sad for the state of human rights as the military, often known as the Tatmadaw, used excessive violence to put an end to the call for democracy.

A resolution was vetoed in the UN Security Council because to Chinese and Russian support for the Tatmadaw, therefore it might be said that the situation has reached this point as a result of the lackluster response and insufficient strict steps of the international community.

Unprecedented agony and hardship for the people of Myanmar resulted from the military’s unrelenting violence and repression in 2022.

Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the prominent leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) who was detained by the Tatmadaw two years ago after they attempted a coup and made the absurd claim that elections had been rigged. Despite the fact that the NLD won the election with an overwhelming majority of seats and 83 percent of the vote overall, Tatmadaw, the “King Maker,” rejected the outcome out of concern for its continued control over Myanmar politics. The general populace of Myanmar protested against the coup and denounced it. The demonstration quickly evolved into the civil disobedience movement (CDM), in which professionals from all fields refused to report to work and sought the return of democracy.

The Tatmadaw’s choice to satiate the demand with bullets covered Myanmar’s streets in blood. According to the Thailand-based human rights organization Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the Tatmadaw has killed roughly 1,500 people and detained up to 9,000 others in the past year (Burma). Additionally, the Tatmadaw employed stringent monitoring techniques to stifle protestors’ voices. 120 journalists have been detained under the recently implemented harsh provision, Section 505A of the penal code, of whom 15 have been found guilty and 50 are still awaiting trial. Seven media outlets’ licenses as well as those for satellite television have been revoked.

After the People’s Defence Force (PDF) was established as the political branch of the National Unity Government in the midst of the bloody crackdown, the CDM changed into an armed resistance group (NUG). Even though NUG has the least power over the force, former NLD officials and pro-democracy fronts founded NUG and PDF as their armed wings. PDF and NUG gradually became one of the main political groups in Myanmar. To combat PDF, Tatmadaw has increased its level of aggression, whereas PDF prefers guerrilla warfare. According to UN estimates, at least 406,000 people have been displaced due to the increasing civil war.

Myanmar’s economy has also been destroyed by political unrest. Foreign companies’ withdrawal and currency depreciation have stifled the nation’s economic expansion.

Even while previous military coups encountered the least resistance and protest, this one resulted in a hitherto unheard-of movement against the dictatorship. The youth of the nation have demonstrated a strong belief in democracy and have remained in the forefront of the protest. The “Five Twos,” often referred to as Myanmar’s “Generation Z,” have taken the Tatmadaw and the rest of the world by surprise. Their political awareness is commendable, and they exhibit an unwavering spirit of resistance.

The Tatmadaw started to experience an image crisis after the youth rebellion was violently put down, and they now worry about maintaining power in the face of unabated popular hatred. Outside of Myanmar, the Tatmadaw has substantial backing from mighty nations like China and Russia.

On the other hand, the people of Myanmar rely on the international world to change things and bring back democracy. With the military’s withdrawal from power, it is clear that the situation will change for the better, necessitating the major engagement of the international community. Ironically, there has been no progress toward resolving this political problem by the international community, which is still bitterly split.

The lives of Myanmar’s residents and ethnic communities are wretched and perpetually unstable due to the lackluster responses of the international community, the geopolitical alignment of major countries, the lengthy history of military rule, and the Tatmadaw’s counter-insurgency operations. Torture, famine, and displacement are the three main pillars of modern-day Myanmar society.

The Tatmadaw has not been significantly impacted by major corporations leaving the country in protest of violations of human rights, such as Chevron and Total. The causes of humanity, genocide, and ethnic cleansing are not what drive the global world; rather, it is geopolitical interests. Although many people believed NUG would have international assistance to drive the Tatmadaw out, in reality, it has not succeeded in securing the backing of significant international players beyond mere lip service.

Situations like these, ranging from the Rohingya catastrophe to the Middle East conflict, have demonstrated how keenly global powers have focused on securing their own interests through strategic realignments and readjustments. Bangladesh is affected by the military takeover in Myanmar and the subsequent political developments in that country since the repatriation of 1.1 million Rohingyas from Bangladesh has been put on hold.

The Tatmadaw’s violence, repression, and civil war in Myanmar have left people living in perpetual fear and uncertainty. The international community must restore democracy to Myanmar’s youth and give displaced people like the Rohingyas new hope. Before it’s too late, the international community must respond in a concerted and strict manner. The Tatmadaw would gain strength as a result of the great nations failing to act, prolonging the agony and vulnerability of the people of Myanmar in 2023 and beyond.

We honor the lives lost over the previous year, especially those of women, children, humanitarian workers, human rights advocates, and nonviolent protestors, on this second anniversary of the coup. We vehemently condemn the country’s widespread human rights abuses and breaches committed by the military dictatorship, especially those committed against Rohingya and other racial and religious minorities. We express our deep concern about the verifiable reports of sexual and gender-based violence as well as torture. We are really concerned about the additional more than 400,000 people who have fled their homes since the coup. We further express our serious concern for the worsening humanitarian situation throughout the nation and call on the military regime to grant immediate, complete, and unrestricted access to vulnerable communities for humanitarian purposes, including COVID-19 immunization.

We express our severe concern with the enormous number of people who have been jailed without warrants as well as the sentencing of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

All members of the international community are urged to support initiatives aimed at promoting justice for the people of Myanmar, to hold those accountable for abuses and violations of human rights accountable, to stop providing the military and its representatives with arms, equipment, and technical assistance, and to continue assisting them in meeting immediate humanitarian needs.

We want to be clear that we support the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and the Special Envoy of ASEAN in his efforts to promote a peaceful resolution that serves the needs of the people of Myanmar. In order to ensure that the ASEAN Special Envoy has access to all stakeholders in Myanmar, including pro-democracy organizations, we urge the military administration to actively participate in ASEAN’s efforts to achieve complete and urgent implementation of the Five-Point Consensus. We also applaud the work of the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar and call on the military government to cooperate constructively with her.

The Recent Rohingya Resolution Adopted by UNO Offers a Glimmer of Hope For Rohingyas?

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Since the overwhelming exodus of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh in 2017, the Rohingya problem has gained attention. To continue housing more than 1.1 million refugees in Bangladesh, however, is proving to be an incredibly challenging endeavor given the recent emergence of other national and international challenges.

A ray of light is provided, nonetheless, by the recent Rohingya resolution passed by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee. The resolution was jointly introduced on Wednesday (November 18) by members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union (EU), who all agreed that it was urgent to confront Myanmar’s reprehensible treatment of the Rohingya people and other minorities.

This is good news since, up until now, the international community has not taken sufficient action to relieve the pressure on Bangladesh and to prevent Myanmar from abdicating its responsibility to its citizens.

The resolution is simply the first of several that must be taken to make sure that the Myanmar government creates a secure environment for the Rohingya refugees to return to; it does not, however, guarantee that the repatriation process for those refugees would be accelerated.

It is crucial that the resolution be turned into rapid action because the UN and humanitarian aid groups both have vital roles to play in this situation.

The perpetrators of the crimes done against the Rohingya population can finally be brought to justice with the assistance of the international community. Making sure that the refugees can finally and safely return home requires that we approach this catastrophe with the urgency that it demands.

While Bangladesh’s attempts to host the refugees demonstrate a level of generosity that the rest of the world has yet to demonstrate, it is time for the international community to take action to share the burden that isn’t ours to bear.

The Bangladeshi government has made numerous attempts to reach a deal with Myanmar and to solicit support from the international community for the safe and long-term repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

The human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minority communities in Myanmar was also raised in the resolution adopted by the third committee of the General Assembly on Wednesday.

The Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations said in a statement that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union (EU) jointly presented the proposal to the Third Committee of the General Assembly. 109 countries co-sponsored the resolution, the highest since 2017.

In that proposal, the current political situation in Myanmar has worsened the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minority communities there

In addition to finding the root cause of the Rohingya problem, the resolution calls on Myanmar to fully cooperate with all UN human rights bodies, including the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, to create an environment suitable for the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the Rohingya to Rakhine State.

The statement added, “It commends Bangladesh’s continued cooperation with the ICC, IIMM and other accountability mechanisms to ensure justice and accountability for human rights violations against the Rohingya.”

This year’s resolution also called on UN member states to continue humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh under the principle of ‘Responsibility and Burden Sharing’.

When the proposal was accepted in the General Assembly, the charge of the affairs of Bangladesh. Manowar said, “The Rohingyas sheltering in camps in Bangladesh until their return deserve the solidarity of the international community. Adequate funding is needed to implement this humanitarian response process.”

Highlighting the problem of the Rohingya’s long standing in Bangladesh, Manowar Hossain said, “We sheltered the Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar due to humanitarian considerations, the displaced people always have the desire to return to Myanmar. Bangladesh is bilateral and multilateral in creating an environment suitable for the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya to Myanmar. Front has undertaken multifaceted diplomatic efforts to create an environment conducive to safe and voluntary return to Myanmar.”

In addition, the important role of regional countries and organizations such as ASEAN in the development of Myanmar’s political and human rights situation has been highlighted. Special emphasis is placed on the speedy implementation of the five-point recommendations adopted unanimously by ASEAN.The UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on the ‘Human Rights Situation of Rohingya Muslims and Other Minorities in Myanmar’. It also recognized Bangladesh’s humanitarian efforts for the Rohingya. This is definitely good news.

The proposal seeks to find the root cause of the Rohingya problem as well as create an environment conducive to the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the Rohingya to Myanmar’s Rakhine State. In this regard, Myanmar has been called upon to fully cooperate with all human rights organizations of the United Nations, including the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General in Myanmar.

It is hoped that the international community will be more alert and aware of the Rohingya issue at the United Nations. It can be said that the task of repatriating Rohingyas will be relatively easy if such a proposal is unanimously accepted by the Security Council in the future. The main question is whether the Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh will be able to return to their homeland. As long as this goal is not achieved, there will be no relief for Bangladesh. Despite being overpopulated and plagued by socio-economic problems, Bangladesh has given shelter to the displaced Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar on humanitarian grounds. But this humanitarian step has become a burden for Bangladesh now. Rohingyas coming to this country has created a multidimensional crisis. The environment of Cox’s Bazar area has become polluted. Population density has increased.

Rohingyas are involved in various criminal activities including drug smuggling and are worsening the law and order situation in the country. This situation is not only a threat to Bangladesh’s internal security but also to regional security. In this reality, an acceptable solution to the Rohingya crisis has become very important. And this solution can be done only through repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland.

The international community should apply effective pressure on Myanmar, so that the country agrees to take back its citizens. It is expected that the international community will play a stronger role in the Rohingya issue after the unanimously adopted resolution at the United Nations.

Time to Deescalate Myanmar-Bangladesh Border Tension

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Myanmar’s persistent use of mortars to invade Bangladeshi land amounts to a declaration of war on Myanmar’s part and a diplomatic blunder on the part of the government of Bangladesh. In the most recent incident, Myanmar fired three mortar bombs on September 16 into Bangladeshi territory near the Tambru border in Bandarban, killing one man and injuring six others, who were taken to the hospital that night. On September 3, Myanmar fired at least two deadly shells 120 meters into Bangladesh at the Tambru border. On August 28, it launched two additional mortar shells across the same border into Bangladesh, but they did not explode. On August 20, a comparable occurrence occurred at the same border.

Following each incident, Bangladeshi authorities called the ambassador of Myanmar to Dhaka and gave him protest letters. What started with mortar rounds that hadn’t detonated has so far come to a close with the deaths and injuries caused by shell explosions. Bangladesh has reportedly handled the situation professionally on a bilateral basis up to this point, but all that seems to be happening is escalating tensions, which, according to Myanmar, is a provocation for war. Bangladesh is correct to resist giving up.
All of this suggests, however, that despite their repeated claims to be the best of friends, India, China, and Russia have not been persuaded to help prevent Myanmar from inciting a war with Bangladesh. These countries include India, which has cordial bilateral relations with Myanmar, China, which exerts significant influence over Myanmar, and Russia.

According to media reports, Bangladeshi authorities consider bringing the matter before the UN for resolution if diplomatic attempts to date have been unsuccessful.

In December 2018 China and Russia abstained from UN negotiations, and in December 2017 they opposed a UN resolution on the Rohingya problem. It is understandable that the military-run Myanmar, which has a population one-third that of Bangladesh’s and suffers from low credibility throughout the world, would appear to be breaking international law by shelling Bangladesh, given Bangladesh’s weak strategic and political position on the world stage.

In response to recent casualties at Bangladesh’s Bandarban border, the foreign ministry of Bangladesh summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka, Aung Kyaw Moe, and delivered a stern protest letter. Since mid-August, the ministry has summoned the Myanmar ambassador four times for violations of land and airspace by Myanmar along the border in Bandarban’sNaikhongchhari, as well as many incidences in which mortar shells from the neighbouring nation landed on Bangladeshi soil.

To counteract any effects of the unrest in the Rakhine state, the Coastguard and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) are still on high alert in the border region. The Myanmar Armed Forces have fired mortar shells into Bangladesh territory on numerous occasions, leaving the population living near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border areas feeling uneasy. In the most recent incident, which happened on Friday night, five mortar rounds fired from Myanmar detonated at a Rohingya camp in a no-land man’s close to Tumbru bazar in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhariupazila, killing a 28-year-old man named Mohammad Iqbal and injuring eight others. An earlier land mine explosion in Bandarban’sNaikhongchhari border area injured a young Bangladeshi man.

The ambassador for Myanmar confirmed that many mortar bombs had been fired into Bangladeshi territory, but he asserted that their insurgent groups had also fired heavy artillery and mortars, some of which had landed on Bangladeshi soil. In this regard, the foreign ministry reaffirmed the government of Bangladesh’s policy of “zero tolerance” toward terrorism and its refusal to harbour any forces threatening the security of its neighbours.

The current crisis is instilling terror among the defenseless citizens residing in Myanmar’s border regions, it has been warned Myanmar.

Bangladesh requested Myanmar to stop engaging in actions that endanger local residents’ lives and means of subsistence. Bangladesh also urged that Myanmar stop its careless military actions close to the border and make sure that no Myanmar-made ammunition enters Bangladeshi territory.

Bangladesh has already said clearly that it wishes to resolve its differences with Myanmar amicably. Therefore, the nation hopes that Myanmar will learn from their error and stop taking actions in the future that would harm bilateral relations.

The Myanmar Armed Forces kept firing many mortar shells into Bangladeshi territory on purpose in an effort to stir up trouble near the border. Bangladesh is working to find a diplomatic resolution with Myanmar because it doesn’t want a war. And the nation will make every effort, taking the matter to the UN if necessary (UN).

The government of Bangladesh, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, never supports armed conflict and always favours peaceful resolution. Bangladesh is attempting to resolve the issue on a bilateral and multilateral level. We are hopeful that the international community and the UN will step up and take the necessary actions to put an end to this disturbance.

Although a battle with a neighbour is not desirable, a diplomatic solution to the problem should still be sought. If necessary, Bangladeshi authorities should raise this with the UN. To find a solution, it must intensify its diplomatic efforts on a regional and global scale.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh should maintain a standing national army to defend its borders, fend against Myanmar, and avert any dangerous situations.

Views expressed are personal

Tense Border: On that Unintentional Error

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For the last few days tension has been growing along the Myanmar border with Bangladesh which has also spread among locals at Naikhongchari and Ghumdhum border areas. According to media reports, Myanmar security forces orchestrated a series of fierce attacks from fighter planes and helicopters inside Bangladesh border in Bandarban on Saturday morning. (September 03) Shells and gunshots were fired from warplanes and helicopters in the Ghumdhum area at around 9:20am.

At least four Myanmar fighter aircraft reportedly crossed into Bangladesh’s air space over Naikhongchhari upazila in Bandarban Saturday morning.

Media reports read that law enforcers are currently on alert after the incident. However, no casualty was reported.

On Thursday, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is better prepared so that none can enter from Myanmar now due to the deteriorated situation in Rakhine state.

“We do not want to step into Myanmar’s provocation or trap,” he said, adding that the Myanmar side might have a strategic benefit if they can move in such a unilateral direction.

Police and locals said that two warplanes and helicopters patrolled across the Myanmar border between BGB-BOP border pillars no 40-41 in Ghumdhum’s Tumbru area.

At that time around 8-10 shells were fired from the warplanes, and two of them landed 120 metres inside Bangladesh. Besides, the helicopters were also seen firing some 30 bullets.

Locals also said at least four rounds of heavy shells were fired from BGP-2 Tambru Right Camp in Myanmar part, between the border pillar No 34-35 in Naikhongchari on Saturday morning.

Firing was also reported from Muringajhiri Camp and Tambru Right Camp in Myanmar.

On August 28, Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) hurled mortar shells at the border in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari.

Two mortar shells landing in Bangladeshi territory from Myanmar earlier on August 28, where heavy fighting between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military have been reported, on Sunday is a threat to the sovereignty of Bangladesh and to bilateral relations between the two countries. The incident bodes ill not only for Bangladesh and Myanmar but also for regional stability. The shells landed at Naikhyangchari in Bandarban on Sunday afternoon, creating panic among the locals in the Tumbru Uttar Para border area. The bomb disposal unit of the Border Guard Bangladesh is reported to have defused the shells. Such a situation has legitimately become a cause of serious concern for Bangladesh that sees the incident, be it intentional or accidental, as a threat to the sovereignty of Bangladesh that can deteriorate the relations between the two countries.

The relation between the countries have already remained strained mainly because of the irresolution on the safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas — over a million Rohingyas fled violence in Rakhine and entered Bangladesh over the past four decades, with over 700,000 entering the country only in 2017.

Repatriation efforts have faltered since the two countries signed deals, first in November 2017 and then in January 2018, mostly because of the reluctance of the Myanmar authorities and a fearful situation in Myanmar.

When the landing of the mortar shells on Sunday is the recent example of Myanmar’s apparent disregard for the sovereignty of Bangladesh, its bilateral relations with Bangladesh and peace in the region, the Myanmar authorities are not yet known to have acknowledged the incident and clarified their position.

Such disregard was also noted when Myanmar helicopters violated the Bangladesh air space a number of times in August-September 2017, which the Bangladesh authorities strongly protested. However, the repetition of such incidents suggests Myanmar’s continuous breach of international laws. It is also contrary to good neighbourly relations and could lead to unwarranted situations, which are not in the interests of not only Myanmar but also Bangladesh and other regional countries. While a stable and peaceful neighbour is always preferred and, in fact, necessary for any country, an unstable Rakhine is a threat to safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas, an unstable border is a threat to the people living there.

It is, therefore, imperative that the Bangladesh authorities protest to its Myanmar counterparts and seek explanations on the mortar shells incident and see to it that such violation never happens again, for the interests of both countries and the region.

The Bangladesh authorities have, therefore, strongly protested the mortar shell incident to the Myanmar authorities and must also officially inform international and regional forums about the recent and earlier incidents of violation of international laws. The government stepped-up security measures on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border so that people living there feel safe.

According to media reports, law enforcement agencies have further strengthened security measures along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border at Naikhongchari point as locals reported firing from helicopters from the Myanmar side on Saturday.

The law enforcement agencies including Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) remain alert and intelligence surveillance has also been increased near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already and will have summoned Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh Aung Kyaw Moe again on Sunday to lodge a strong protest regarding the matter.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said the government has warned Myanmar and they assured that the country will remain more careful.

On Thursday, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is better prepared so that none can enter from Myanmar now due to the deteriorated situation in the Rakhine state.

The Myanmar side was warned twice in August following mortar shells landing in Bangladesh territory from Myanmar and a strong protest was lodged in this regard. “We do not want to step into Myanmar’s provocation or trap,” he said, adding that they (Myanmar side) might have a strategic benefit if they can move in such a unilateral direction.

On August 29, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Myanmar envoy and lodged a strong protest against Myanmar’s mortar shells landing inside Bangladesh territory a day earlier.
Bangladesh has lodged a strong protest with Myanmar so that such incidents do not happen again. Bangladesh has also strongly condemned the incident.

But tackling insurgency is an internal issue of Myanmar. Myanmar can’t violate the sovereignty of Bangladesh anyhow in the name of unintentional error. Myanmar must have respect to international law. Myanmar must respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty. Such kind of continuous attitude can damage bilateral relations and destabilize the whole region. Myanmar must remember that Bangladesh is also a militarily capable country.

Views are personal

Myanmar donates 1000 tonnes of rice to Sri Lanka

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The ceremony to donate 1000 tons of rice from Myanmar to Sri Lanka was held at the Asia World Port Terminal on September 2 morning, local media in Naypyidaw has reported.

At the ceremony, Union Minister U Aung Naing Oo of the Ministry of Commerce said that this donation represents the compassion of Myanmar government and the public towards Sri Lankan people. He added that bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries will be enhanced in the future. He later handed over the documents concerning rice donation.

Afterwards, Sri Lankan ambassador handed over the letter of thanks to president of the Myanmar rice federation for organizing export of rice. He then expressed thanks to government and officials of Myanmar. He said, Sri Lanka is facing economic crisis at present and this kind of donation is of great assistance.

He also thanked Myanmar Prime Minister Senior-General Min Aung Haling for arranging this kind of donation.