Yesterday, 21 September 2017, at the United Nations General Assembly, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, stated, “We are horrified to see that the Myanmar authorities are laying landmines along their stretch of the border to prevent the Rohingya from returning to Myanmar. These people must be able to return to their homeland in safety, security and dignity.”
Previously, in April 2017, after a six day meeting between the Border Guards Bangladesh and the Myanmar Police Force, and agreement to clear their common border of landmines and improvised explosive devices was concluded between the two countries. Bangladesh is a state party to the Mine Ban Treaty, and all states parties should support Bangladesh in their efforts to engage Myanmar in mine clearance on its side of the border to prevent further casualties among the refugees there. The number of casualties among the refugees from Myanmar is not known due to chaos in the border area as Bangladesh is overwelmed with new arrivals. It is known that their are mine victims from Myanmar being treated in both Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong hospitals.
Today, 22 September 2017, The President of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Thomas Hajnoczi, Ambassador of Austria to the UN, contacted Myanmar authorities regarding new mine use allegations. He stated, “I have asked the government of Myanmar to clarify the situation and consider an independent fact-finding mission with international participation into this matter. Any use of anti-personnel mines, an indiscriminate weapon which has dire consequences on civilian populations, is of grave concern to the States Parties of our Convention.”
“In a communication with the government of Myanmar I called on authorities to take urgent action to save lives and safeguard the health of civilians. International established measures such as mine awareness education, fencing and marking of hazardous areas and mine clearance should be urgently undertaken by the government,” said the Ambassador.
Also today, the ICBL strongly condemned the new use by Myanmar’s Armed Forces. “There can be no justification for using such indiscriminate weapons, which are harming and killing civilians fleeing their homes,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch, chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).