29.10.2009 Political

Myanmar: the Ultimate Threat to Democracy

29.10.2009 LISTEN

A tragedy of torn diplomatic relations and uncertainty has existed for almost three decades between the neighboring countries of Myanmar and Bangladesh. This situation has become even more strained since November 2008, due to the growing diplomatic and military crisis caused by disagreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh over maritime boundary demarcations.

Over the past four months, the crisis has mounted on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, as Myanmar goes ahead with construction of a barbed wire fence along the border.

The Myanmar authority has completed the construction of pillars covering over 80 kilometers of the 270-kilometer land border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, from Teknaf to Banderban. They have recently also set up several border outposts.

The present crisis is rooted in what happened in November 2008, when Myanmar hired South Korea's Daewoo International Corporation to carry out hydrocarbon exploration in a stretch of the sea that both countries claim, about 90 kilometers southwest of Bangladesh. At that time, four Korean ships guarded by Myanmar's navy started searching for oil and gas reserves 50 nautical miles southwest of Bangladesh, in a stretch of ocean both countries claim. At that point, Bangladesh resumed negotiation with Myanmar to define their maritime borders.

A series of discussions took place between the two neighboring countries to resolve the issue, but the crisis was not resolved.

In mid-October of 2009, Myanmar stationed small- and mid-sized warships 20 miles southeast of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, at the Sai Tin River, east of Maungdaw. Bangladesh also sent warships into the bay, to counter the alleged intrusion.

Although Bangladesh managed to defuse tensions after involving China in negotiations, the fencing project is still going on and a notable number of troops are being deployed by both countries to reinforce their side of the border. Both countries are advocating precautionary measures along the border to avoid any undesirable situations.

Bangladesh has taken their maritime border issue with Myanmar to the U.N., so why are there still tensions?

Obviously, there is no chance that war will break out between these two neighboring nations. Recently, in a closed door meeting with senior foreign intelligence officials, some specific information about the ongoing crisis between Myanmar and Bangladesh was shared.

An intelligence official shared some specific facts about the Myanmar-Bangladesh border crisis. Behind the scenes, politicians from both the Bangladesh Awami League and the pro-Islamist party, senior officials of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and a group of senior foreign intelligence officers of three different countries are working closely for different causes.

Amidst all this action, Gen. Moeen Uddin Ahmed, the former Chief of Army Staff, is playing the vital role of communicating with those involved from Myanmar and the two other countries. While the situation is tense at the border, the main action is happening in the hill tracts in the deep forest near the border.

A large amount of arms ammunition is on the way, due to come by the end of October, from three different locations that will include 7.62-mm A-91 small-size assault rifles, 9-mm 9A-91 assault rifles, AEK-971 assault rifles, easy-to-carry hand grenades, surface-to-surface missiles and specially made biological weapons.

The different people in this mission have different agendas, yet their mission is same. The groups are targeting different establishments for attacks before December 16th, and already a group has been highly trained to attack an important air establishment in Bangladesh.

A large number of tribal people were trained in that group, including a notable number of women. Also, some DGFI officials and a foreign ministry official is connected to the plotters to ensure the proper movement of arms and people.

The plotters' target is to destabilize the country and bring down the present government, while the main target is to kill the present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, some of her cabinet members, and a group of intellectuals. In doing so, when the plotters come to power, the three different countries who are helping them will get certain benefits from them.

The government and its intelligence have failed to face the plotters. The country continues to face a great threat, and the peace and security of the region will be disturbed if the plotters are not faced by the government.

William Nicholas Gomes is a human rights activist and freelance journalist.He can be reached at E-mail:[email protected]

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