Myanmar mining Rakhine border: sources

Myanmar has been accused by government sources in Dhaka of laying landmines along its Rakhine State border with Bangladesh.

It was claimed the purpose may be to prevent the return of Rohingya Muslims back to their villages in Myanmar.

Bangladesh would this week formally protest against the laying of mines so close to its territory, the anonymous sources reportedly told Reuters.

Since violence re-erupted on August 25, an estimated 125,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh was home to around 400,000 stateless Rohingya refugees before the current crisis, with most of them living in already crowded camps.

“They are putting the landmines in their territory along the barbed-wire fence,” Reuters quoted a source saying, explaining that the claims were based on witness reports and photographic evidence.

“Our forces have also seen three to four groups working near the barbed wire fence, putting something into the ground,” a Bangladeshi source said.

“We then confirmed with our informers that they were laying landmines.”

The Rakhine State authorities denied the allegations.

The conflict was triggered by an attack by Rohingya militants on police posts, although no claims can be independently verified as the border areas of Rakhine State are off-limits to international media and aid groups.

Rohingya witnesses who have fled to Bangladesh have described troops and Rakhine Buddhist mobs burning their villages and killing civilians in a campaign to drive them out.

Nay Pyi Taw makes the improbable claim that the “Bengali” population burns its own homes and is terrorising their Buddhist neighbours. The racially charged term “Bengali” is used to deny the mainly Muslim community citizenship, implying they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The authorities even discourage the use of the word “minority” because it apparently implies citizenship.

Malaysia has summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in a rare Asean diplomatic rebuke to express “deep concern” over the spiralling violence against the Rohingya.

Profound anger is growing in Muslim-majority Asean partners, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ambassador Sein Oo was called to the Malaysian foreign ministry to be told of “deep concern regarding the escalation of violence”, warning that it could cause Rohingya refugees to flee to other Asean members, the ministry said.

“It would also see more people… become increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists. Both have the potential to greatly impact the security and stability of the region,” the ministry statement said.

Malaysian has repeatedly breached the Asean principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member countries on the Rohingya issue. Complicating the relationship is that Malaysia has a large Burmese migrant community who have been subjected to reprisals.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s foreign minister Anifah Aman has held telephone discussions with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts to arrange a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on the Rohingya issue.

As of June this year, there were 59,100 Rohingya refugees registered with the UN refugee agency in Malaysia.

Rohingya flee to Bangladesh. Picture credit: YouTube