Bangladesh ac­cuses Burma of air vi­o­la­tions

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - JULHAS ALAM

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi au­thor­i­ties sum­moned Burma’s en­voy to protest what they said were vi­o­la­tions of their airspace, fur­ther strain­ing the na­tions’ ties as the num­ber of Ro­hingya Mus­lims flee­ing vi­o­lence in west­ern Burma in the past three weeks reached more than 400,000.

Burma’s pres­i­den­tial spokesman on Satur­day said there’s no ev­i­dence of any tres­pass­ing and that Bangladesh should have reached out to dis­cuss its con­cerns in­stead of is­su­ing pub­lic state­ments.

The Bangladesh Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs said Fri­day that Burmese drones and he­li­copters flew into Bangladeshi airspace on Sept. 10, Tues­day and Thursday. It said a protest note was handed to Burma’s en­voy Fri­day evening. Bangladesh warned that the “provoca­tive acts” could lead to con­se­quences.

In Ran­goon, Burma’s largest city, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Zaw Htay said that while Burma’s mil­i­tary de­nied cross­ing into Bangladesh’s airspace, the mat­ter was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. “We don’t know ex­actly if they re­leased that state­ment for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons,” he said of Bangladesh’s protest.

He added that Burma was “trans­port­ing ra­tions for dis- placed people for emer­gency as­sis­tance” to ar­eas close to the bor­der and that Bangladesh “needs to un­der­stand that as well.”

United Na­tions agen­cies say an es­ti­mated 409,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when deadly at­tacks by a Ro­hingya in­sur­gent group on po­lice posts prompted Burma’s mil­i­tary to launch “clear­ance op­er­a­tions” in Rakhine state. Those flee­ing have de­scribed in­dis­crim­i­nate at­tacks by se­cu­rity forces and Bud­dhist mobs.

The Burmese gov­ern­ment said hun­dreds of people have died, mostly Ro­hingya “ter­ror­ists,” and that 176 out of 471 Ro­hingya vil­lages have been aban­doned. Burma has in­sisted that Ro­hingya in­sur­gents and flee­ing vil­lagers are de­stroy­ing their own vil­lages. It has of­fered no proof to back those al­le­ga­tions.

The U.N. has de­scribed the vi­o­lence against the Ro­hingya in Burma as eth­nic cleans­ing — an or­ga­nized ef­fort to rid an area of an eth­nic group.

Burma is of­ten called Myan­mar, a name that rul­ing mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties adopted in 1989. Some na­tions, such as the United States and Bri­tain, have re­fused to adopt the name change.

Eth­nic Ro­hingya have faced per­se­cu­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion in ma­jor­ity-Bud­dhist Burma for decades and are de­nied cit­i­zen­ship, even though many fam­i­lies have lived there for gen­er­a­tions. The gov­ern­ment says there is no such eth­nic­ity as Ro­hingya and that mem­bers of the group are Ben­galis who il­le­gally mi­grated to Burma from Bangladesh.

U.N. agen­cies fear that con­tin­ued vi­o­lence in Burma may even­tu­ally drive up to 1 mil­lion Ro­hingya into Bangladesh.

As hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya have crossed the bor­der, re­lief camps have over­flowed and food, medicine and drink­ing wa­ter have been in short sup­ply.

Mo­hammed Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh’s ju­nior for­eign min­is­ter, said Satur­day that In­dia, Tur­key, Morocco, In­done­sia, Iran and Malaysia have sent aid and that the goods are wait­ing in an air­port in nearby Chit­tagong. He said ships were ex­pected to ar­rive with more aid soon.

“The United Na­tions and many other pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions are work­ing there to sup­port hun­dreds of thou­sands who are in dire need of as­sis­tance,” said Khaled Mah­mud, a top of­fi­cial in the Cox’s Bazar area. He ac­knowl­edged that aid dis­tri­bu­tion re­mained hap­haz­ard three weeks into the cri­sis.

AP/DAR YASIN

A Ro­hingya Mus­lim woman is given wa­ter by a passer-by near the Mushani refugee camp in Bangladesh on Satur­day as the woman and her daugh­ter wait for help to reach a doc­tor.

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