At the end of November, Bangladesh and Myanmar both sent delegations to the 4th Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty. At the meeting, Bangladesh urged, “Myanmar to impose moratorium on the use, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.” Bangladesh continued, “We also urge Myanmar to continue its work on victim assistance involving all affected communities in fully transparency, and to meaningfully engage with non-state armed groups allegedly using and stockpiling anti-personnel mines within its territory. These measures would be critical for creating an environment conducive to the safe and dignified return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya to their homes in Rakhine State.” In the conclusion of its statement, Bangladesh affirmed, “On its part, Bangladesh remains available to work together with Myanmar to share our experience of stockpile destruction and expertise in mine action as a lead contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.”

Also in Bangladesh’s statement, they said, “we reiterate our deep concern over Myanmar’s continued use of anti-personnel mines….. Our border management authorities recorded anti-personnel mine related accidents within Myanmar territory along our borders even as recently as in September and November 2019, leading to several civilian fatalities and injuries. The UN Fact-Finding Mission had been categorical about the reported use of anti-personnel mines by Myanmar armed forces in at least two States...”

Bangladesh’s delegation was as a state party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, being the first nation in South Asia to have joined the convention. In 1996, Myanmar endorsed a UN resolution calling on states to pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel landmines. However since the Mine Ban Treaty opened for states to join it the following year, in 1997, Myanmar has remained outside the convention.

Myanmar’s observer delegation made no comment on Bangladesh’s offer of assistance or its suggestion of a moratorium on use, as the Myanmar observer delegation was no longer in the room. Once they had delivered their statement the entire delegation left. The statement by Myanmar’s observer delegation, regarding use, said, in part, “Building lasting peace is the most fundamental and important task in the process of stopping future use of anti-personnel mines. Myanmar will continue to promote the full stop in the use of anti-personnel mines by all parties to the conflict.” This made it sound like the use of antipersonnel landmines was outside the control of whomever the observer delegation was representing.

Bangladesh later stated, “It is particularly distressing that the Myanmar authorities remain in a denial mode about the use and production of anti-personnel mines by and for its armed forces, and tend to attribute the responsibility mostly to armed non-State actors. It is further disturbing that the State Parties and regional or international entities that partner with Myanmar on victim assistance and mine risk education opt to remain largely silent on such violation of international norms by the State itself. We stress that such omission or silence only helps perpetuate the Myanmar official narrative and implicates the concerned international partners in the crimes being committed targeting innocent civilians among the Rohingya.

In January 2020, Bangladesh will again raise its concerns regarding mines laid on the Myanmar side of their shared border. At a scheduled high level meeting between Border Guard Bangladesh and the Myanmar Border Guard Police to discuss border security issues, Bangladeshi officials involved have stated that they have raised the issue of landmines on the Myanmar side of the shared border and the casualties which they have caused in all past meetings, and will do so again. However they have noted that the Myanmar side refuses to discuss the issue. Source: Muktadir Rashid, Landmine, Yaba issues on agenda, New Age, 3 January 2020 see also: Border Crimes in Focus, New Age, 6 January 2020.

UPDATE 10 JANUARY

At the conclusion of the high level meeting between Border Guard Bangladesh and the Myanmar Border Guard Police, Bangladeshi officials requested Myanmar to remove all mines on the Myanmar side of their shared border in order to prevent any further casualties. Myanmar Police Brigadier General Myoe Than, chief of police general staff of Myanmar Police Force (MPF) who led the eight member delegation from Myanmar alleged ,“There are a number of insurgent groups along the shared border. The IEDs might be planted by those groups, not by the Myanmar troops.” Director General Major General Md Shafeenul Islam, who headed the 14 member delegation for Bangladesh at the meeting stated that IEDs or landmines are dangerous for both the bordering troops. The BGB expects that Myanmar will remove the IEDs, which are planted between zero borderline and 50 yards of the bordering areas. “Border roads will be constructed along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. A Myanmar representative team has assured that the IEDs will be removed before the construction of the roads,” Director General Major General Md Shafeenul Islam was quoted as saying.

Source: “Remove all IEDs, landmines along the borderDaily Star, 9 January 2020.