BURMA Act: Military support to ethnic armed groups in Myanmar ‘may undermine’ Bangladesh’s security

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Brig Gen (Retd) M. Sakhawat Hussain says-

News Desk

Brig Gen (Retd) M. Sakhawat Hussain today (February 22, 2023) said that using a liberal interpretation of the non-lethal assistance clause may allow the United States to provide military support to the various ethnic armed organizations (EAO) in Myanmar which “may undermine” Bangladesh’s security as these groups have some ties to the same separatist factions operating in the country.

He made the remarks while addressing at a colloquium on Impacts of “BURMA Act” on Bangladesh-Myanmar bordering region.

Minister of Health and Education, National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar Professor Zaw Wai Soe today expressed gratitude for the passing of the BURMA Act and for US support.

He, however, reiterated that it does not rely on any one single superpower, rather believes in a multilateral response to be the ideal way to address the current conflict.

NUG officially recognizes the Rohingya as an ethnic group of Myanmar and is in favour of peaceful and full repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

It has been two years since the military coup in Myanmar, and there is no peace in sight.

Late last December, the United States passed the BURMA Act, a comprehensive law designed to simultaneously sanction Myanmar’s military junta while providing support to the country’s numerous democratic forces.

In view of these changes, the Center for Peace Studies (CPS) of the South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance (SIPG) at North South University hosted the colloquium.

Moderated by Dr Sk. Tawfique M. Haque, Director of SIPG, the seminar was addressed by SIPG Senior Fellow and former Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Dr M. Sakhawat Hussain; Sufiur Rahman, Bangladesh’s ambassador to Switzerland and the permanent representative to the UN; former Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque; and Dr Raymond Kwun-Sun Lau, Assistant professor at the Department of Political Science and Sociology of NSU.

Mohammad Sufiur Rahman highlighted the emergence of the Arakan Army as a key player in the conflict and emphasized how reaching a resolution on the Rohingya issue between Bangladesh and Myanmar cannot be achieved without taking the Arakan Army’s interests into account.

Shahidul Haque discussed ASEAN’s role in the conflict and pointed to its repeated shortcomings in addressing the conflict in Myanmar, drawing particular attention to its negligence in understanding the plight of the numerous ethnic minorities in the country.

Dr Raymond Kwun-Sun Lau, underscored the geopolitical and strategic importance of the Rakhine State to regional powers such as India and China, both for its vast reserves of hydrocarbons as well as its location as a key area for connectivity projects that links India to its northeast region and reinforces China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) respectively.

The event was also attended by experts and practitioners of geopolitics, representatives from international agencies, government officials, researchers, journalists, faculty members and students of NSU.

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