Myanmar Conspires To Invade Bangladesh’s St Martin’s Island; Recruits Rohingyas For Military Ops: OPED

OPED By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Myanmar has been showing signs of its notorious ambition of invading St Martin’s Island in Bangladesh. For the last several days, Myanmar has been continuing to shoot trawlers and other vessel services on the Teknaf and St Martin’s sea lanes.

According to media reports, the shots are being fired from Myanmar trawlers and gunboats by illegally entering the Bangladesh maritime boundary.

Following these incidents, Md Mainul Kabir, director general of the Myanmar wing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the media, “We protested on the first day this incident occurred. We will protest again through diplomatic channels. However, we understand that normal conditions do not prevail in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. It is unclear who currently controls the area, but our diplomatic efforts will continue”.

Speedboat owner Syed Alam told the Dhaka Tribune, “We stayed off the river for five days after the last shooting. After consulting with the administration, one of our speedboats transported a sick patient returning from Chittagong for treatment around 11 a.m. on Tuesday. As we reached the Gholchar area, the speedboat was fired upon by a trawler near the Myanmar border. Fortunately, it managed to reach Saint Martin’s safely, and no one was injured.”

When Dhaka Tribune asked about the source of the gunfire, Syed Alam explained, “Initially, we were unsure who was responsible. But today (Tuesday), when our speedboat was shot at by small boats, we saw Myanmar army ships nearby. This leads us to believe that junta soldiers are behind the attacks. Boats traveling from Teknaf to Saint Martin’s are being fired at from the Myanmar side as they cross the Naikkhongdia area at the Naf River estuary”.

He added, “We are living in extreme fear on Saint Martin’s. Without any BGB or Coast Guard patrols in the area, we worry that junta soldiers could invade our island at any time. We feel very insecure”.

Meanwhile, according to a highly-placed source, although over 1.20 million mostly Muslim Rohingyas were sheltered in Bangladesh in August 2017 as they fled the country due to armed conflict between Myanmar forces and members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a notorious militancy outfit which is also involved in transnational drugs, weapon, and human trafficking.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina at the inauguration of various projects in Bangladesh, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Source: PIB)
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina at the inauguration of various projects in Bangladesh, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Source: PIB)

Myanmar’s secret services began recruiting a section of Rohingyas and have been giving them military training, including commando and suicide attack training, with the dangerous plot of getting them on Naypyidaw’s side if there is a war between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

It may be mentioned here that Rohingyas who fled Bangladesh and were given shelter in Bangladesh in 2017 are posing a serious threat to regional and global security, according to numerous sources.

International terrorist outfits, including Al Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS), Hezbollah, Hamas, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb Ut Tahrir, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and others, are already infiltrating the camps, thus recruiting many toward terrorist and jihadist plots.

It may be mentioned here that the majority of Rohingyas from Myanmar are Muslims – most of whom have a heavily radicalized mindset with alarming signs of their hatred towards non-Muslims and almost openly expressing solidarity towards international terrorist outfits. A large segment of these Rohingyas also are – directly or indirectly involved in drug peddling and arms trafficking, as well as they are connected to transnational human trafficking and prostitution rackets.

According to the latest media reports, while at least 45,000 Rohingyas currently are waiting on the Naf River – bordering Bangladesh with the hope of getting the opportunity to infiltrate the country, a significant portion of these people are also attempting to enter India – both through route as well as with the help of human trafficking rackets.

The most alarming fact here is – in addition to it, a few thousand Rohingya jihadists directly connected to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) are succeeding in slipping into Bangladesh and Indian territory, thus posing a serious threat to national security.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the majority of the people in Myanmar are unwilling to let Rohingyas return to their country, as they are mostly involved in terrorist activities.

Giving details of Rohingya terror, Khin Than Yee, 52, a Rakhine Buddhist, told the Guardian how she believed violence in 2017 began. “The Muslim community had been planning to attack the village for a long time. Two Muslims killed the father of [Rakhine Buddhist villager] Tun Aye, and after that, they began shouting and chanting from the top of their mosque and burned their own homes”.

In January 2020, a report published by Times of India said Indian security agencies issued a fresh warning to the country’s armed forces and border guards that the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) is involved in training Rohingyas. They are providing this training through Jamaat-ul Mujahideen of Bangladesh (JMB), a Bangladeshi terrorist organization affiliated with Al Qaeda.

The report went on to say that India’s intelligence agencies fear that these terrorists will be pushed into their country from Bangladesh after Pakistan failed to do so through the Line of Control between Pakistan and India in Jammu and Kashmir, where border protection has been strengthened.

 

St Martin’s Island

The Arakan Army (AA) captured the junta enclave of Paletwa after weeks of fighting.

As Myanmar is violating international law by shooting at vessel services on the Teknaf and St Martin’s sea lanes, members of Al Qaeda-connected Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and pro-Caliphate Jamaat-e-Islami are running vile and baseless propaganda stating: “When Awami League was busy campaigning in the frenzy of conquering the sea, we said that since St Martin’s Island was not shown as Bangladesh’s land border, Bangladesh would lose if Myanmar went to the international court claiming St Martin’s Island as their own. Now Myanmar is advancing towards implementing the agenda of invading the island”.

In reality, as per the verdict of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) – “St Martin’s Island is entitled to a territorial sea, continental shelf, and EEZ, as part of Bangladesh” (page 225).

On March 14, 2012, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered its judgment on the Dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh/Myanmar).

Meanwhile, leaders of BNP, Jamaat, and a few more Islamist parties, as well as pro-Caliphate and anti-democracy Hefazat-e-Islam, are continuously instigating and providing funds to guerilla-trained and terrorist group-affiliated Rohingya terrorists in infiltrating India and also creating anarchy inside Bangladesh through suicide attacks.

  • Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning journalist, writer, research scholar, counterterrorism specialist, and Editor of Blitz, a newspaper published in Bangladesh since 2003. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers. Follow him on X @Salah_Shoaib
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