Bangladesh demands return of soldier
BANGLADESH has demanded Myan-mar security forces return a border guard soldier who was captured – and likely killed – during a border skir-mish last week, and called on the gov-ernment to take a “zero-tolerance” ap-proach to troops instigating conﬂict.The Bangladesh embassy in Yan-gon conﬁrmed media reports that My-anmar security forces opened ﬁre on a Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) patrol on May 28.One of the six BGB members is still missing and an embassy spokesperson told
The Myanmar Times
on May 30 that they believe he was either cap-tured or killed by the Myanmar side.News agency AFP reported that further gunﬁre erupted on the after-noon of May 30 after the man’s body was not delivered back to Bangladesh. “We have contacted the govern-ment of Myanmar, and we requested that they hand over the soldier alive or dead, since we don’t know” what has happened to him, the embassy spokes-person said.The spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said the embassy did not yet have any information on what pro- voked the clash and it had received no response from the government. They said the embassy had reports from the BGB alleging that Myanmar security forces had also ﬁred on Bang-ladeshi troops earlier in the week. The spokesperson said the recent vi-olence “deﬁnitely concerns” Bangladesh and said both governments should take a “zero tolerance policy” to those that initiate conﬂict on the border.However, the spokesperson also stated that they did not believe the incidents would damage diplomatic relations between the two nations. “There is no damage. This is a porous border. Sometimes these things can happen … We have regular meetings on [border security].”The President’s Oﬃce could not be reached for comment. The incident comes during a period of heightened tension on the border. On May 17, several Myanmar border guard police were attacked at a border post in Maungdaw township in north-ern Rakhine State by an armed group that had illegally entered Myanmar from Bangladesh. Four police were killed and another was injured, and the police oﬃcers’ weapons were also taken in the ambush. While the government said only that it was perpetrated by an “armed group”, some media outlets speculated that the Rohingya Solidarity Organisa-tion was responsible, with Eleven Me-dia declaring recently that “terrorist war [is] spreading to the western part of Myanmar”.This sensationalist reporting has been dismissed by most observers – including the Bangladesh embassy spokesperson – but there are concerns that marginalised Muslim communi-ties in Rakhine State could be induced to take up arms.Deputy Minister for Information U Ye Htut, who is also a spokesper-son for President U Thein Sein, also expressed concern that such acts of terrorism could generate more hatred between Buddhists and Muslims and create further instability.He added that Bangladesh has, over the course of many years, ar-rested terrorists operating from its territory and cracked down on groups staging attacks against Myanmar. He said he believes Bangladesh will re-spond to the incident appropriately because a stable border is in the inter-ests of both countries. As
The Myanmar Times
reported last week, observers in the border area say the May 17 incident and other recent attacks on security forces are indicative of a border that is growing increasingly lawless.Saiful Huq Omi, a Bangladeshi jour-nalist who has reported extensively from the border, said that since Mus-lims began ﬂeeing from Rakhine State after violence in 2012, the border has become a hotbed of criminal activity, as human traﬃckers and other smugglers see an opportunity for proﬁt.
‘We requested that [the government] hand over the soldier alive or dead.’
Bangladesh embassy Yangon
Embassy in Yangon conﬁrms reports of a shootout on the border on May 28, as concerns grow over increased violence in the area
Kachin farmers to sue Yuzana U Htay Myint
FARMERS from Kachin State whose lands were conﬁscated by company Yu-zana say they will ﬁle charges against chair U Htay Myint if he does not take action to resolve the dispute.They say he has failed to adhere to a promise made in 2012 to compensate thousands of farmers for lost property and income. On May 30, the farmers protested outside the Yuzana head-quarters at Shwegonedaing junction in Yangon’s Bahan township. The farmers are demanding that the company return their land, compen-sate them for their losses and leave the Hukawng Valley. “If U Htay Myint still avoids solving this problem, we are going to charge him [again],” Daw Bawk Jar, a land rights activists and National Democrat-ic Force member, said on May 28.In 2006, Yuzana received more than 300,000 acres of land in the Hukawng Valley area for a cassava plantation. While most of the land was unoc-cupied, thousands of farmers from six villages lost about 30,000 acres of land. After regional oﬃcials failed to act on their complaints, 17 farmers – in-cluding Daw Bawk Jar – brought charg-es against Yuzana and U Htay Myint, a Pyithu Hluttaw representative, in 2010. While the farmers won the case, they were awarded compensation of just K80,000 an acre. Appeals to higher courts were rejected. After the farmers staged protests in Yangon in mid-2012, U Htay Myint promised Daw Bawk Jar at a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw that he would immediately return land to the 17 farmers who ﬁled the case and compensate all other farm-ers for their losses. “He did give us land but he just took it from other farmers,” Daw Bawk Jar said. “It’s not an acceptable solution.”Representatives for Yuzana did not respond to requests for comment.Farmers said the loss of their plan-tations had made them destitute.“We regularly go without food be-cause we have no income and no work,” said U Kum Htet Gwem Jar, 73. “Our houses were destroyed by bulldozers and burned down in front of our eyes.”
Farmers from Kachin State protest outside Yuzana’s Yangon office on May 30.
NOE NOE AUNG
RELATED STORY NEWS 18