(2nd Waxing of Tazaungmone 1380 ME)
(9 November 2018)
On 5th November 2018, the Daily Star newspaper published an article according to which a spokesperson from the Bangladesh Border Guard Police claimed that shots were fired seventeen times from a police outpost near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and a fifteen-year-old cowherd named Narul Islam suffered injuries to his elbow.
On 7th November 2018, Mr Delwar Houssain, Director General of South and East Asia Department of the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited the Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh and formally lodged a protest.
The Myanmar Ambassador promptly contacted the responsible officials from the Myanmar Border Guard, who confirmed that no shooting incident had taken place. The Myanmar Border Police had not received any complaint related to such an incident, nor had the Bangladesh side attempted to call a Flag Meeting the following day to discuss this issue, which would have been the normal course of action to take.
The Myanmar Border Police further investigated this incident with a view to taking necessary action. The Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh is situated some 5,000 yards away from the Taung Pyo Letwe police outpost mentioned in the newspaper report.
There are two Bangladesh police outposts between the refugee camp and the Taung Pyo Letwe police outpost. At the specific date and time of the alleged incident, Myanmar and Bangladesh were conducting coordinated patrols of the Naf River to ensure border security and stability. It has been verified that there had been no shooting from either the Taung Pyo Letwe police outpost or the Ye Aung Chang Wa police outpost. Neither had there been any reports of shooting lodged by the Bangladesh officials engaged in the coordinated exercises. The Myanmar police force has also confirmed that there was no request for any Flag Meeting related to this incident from the Bangladesh side.
The Ministry would urge that if similar incidents are reported in the future, the Bangladesh side should immediately call for a Flag Meeting to discuss the matter. A formal protest through diplomatic channels based on dubious reports, as took place in this case, does not serve any useful purpose.
The Ministry is particularly concerned that such actions could cause misunderstanding and delay to the repatriation of verified returnees to Myanmar, which is due to commence very soon. Myanmar is conscious of the friendly relations that exist between the two countries and will in good faith implement the bilateral agreement for the return of displaced persons from Rakhine under conditions of safe, voluntary and dignified return.