Acting foreign secretary rear admiral (retired) Md. Khurshed Alam briefing the ASEAN ambassadors about the deteriorating situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border at the state guest house Padma on MondayCollected

The member states of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have expressed concern that the ongoing crisis in Myanmar may incite regional instability. The diplomats of these ASEAN countries say Myanmar is solely responsible for the situation along the border with Bangladesh. Peace and stability of Myanmar is depending on the initiatives taken by Naypyidaw, they say.

The top diplomats of seven member states of ASEAN said this at a press briefing organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the state guest house, Padma on Monday.

Head of the missions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines and Vietnam were present at the briefing. However, the Myanmar ambassador to Bangladesh was not there.

At the briefing, acting foreign secretary rear admiral (retired) Md. Khurshed Alam highlighted the deteriorating situation along the Ghumdhum border in Bangladesh as a result of the armed conflict between the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army, a rebel armed force.

The foreign ministry is yet to make any official statement regarding this. However, the sources present at the discussion between the two parties said Dhaka informed the diplomats about the situation that emerged along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border during the discussion. Besides, Dhaka also sought assistance from all over the world, including the ASEAN member states for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

Asked about reactions from the diplomats of the seven ASEAN countries to Bangladesh’s request, a source said Bangladesh has explained its own stance to the diplomat. After that, several countries said on behalf of ASEAN that Bangladesh is on the right track so far.

The diplomats said they had tried a lot to pursue Myanmar for the transition from the ongoing crisis. ASEAN made a five-point recommendation for this as well. Myanmar, however, neglected these recommendations in the end. Therefore, they are frustrated with Myanmar. Some had questioned the credibility of ASEAN as a forum as the internal crisis of Myanmar could not be resolved. However, if Myanmar itself does not want to solve the problem, what the ASEAN can do there, the diplomats added.

Violence has been widespread in Myanmar since a military coup last year. In April last year, at the initiative of Indonesian president Joko Widodo, a five-point decision was taken to bring peace to Myanmar at the meeting of ASEAN leaders in Jakarta. Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing was present in that meeting.

The ASEAN countries have assured of bringing up the issue of ongoing crisis in Myanmar during the upcoming (77th) UN General Assembly as well as helping Bangladesh in this regard because stability in Myanmar is not the matter of the two countries, it is related to the stability of the entire region.

Asked about this, acting foreign secretary Md. Khurshed Alam said, “We, as a responsible country, have clarified our position to the diplomats of the ASEAN countries. Already we have been suffering a lot with the Rohingya crisis. This new armed conflict within Myanmar is greatly interrupting our people’s security, which is not acceptable by any means. Bangladesh always looks for peaceful resolution. The Rohingya crisis is not being resolved either. Therefore, we have sought their help.”

‘Rohingyas won't be allowed any more to enter Bangladesh’

Meanwhile home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, while addressing an event at Bashundhara convention hall in Dhaka marking the fifth founding anniversary of Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) of police on Monday, said, “No more Rohingya will be allowed to enter the country. Those who entered the country earlier fleeing persecution in Myanmar have created many problems.”

He further said, “A conflict is ongoing between the Myanmar Army and local armed group Arakan Army. They are firing at each other. Some of these bullets are falling inside the Bangladesh territory and one of our people was killed in this. We have strongly protested this.”

Referring to the security measures, the home minister said, “Security has been beefed in the areas along the border following the incident. Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has spoken to the border security force of Myanmar over this issue.”