The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]

Troop Movements Reported Along Bangladesh-Burma Border
By MIN LWIN Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bangladesh and Burma have reportedly deployed troops along their border and naval vessels offshore as tensions increase between the two countries over oil and gas exploration rights and the Rohingya refugees issue.

The deployments were reported by Khine Mrat Kyaw in the Bangladesh-based Narinjara news agency on Wednesday.

Khine Mrat Kyaw also reported that aircraft landing strips had been constructed in Buthidaung Township, near the border of Burma’s Arakan State and Bangladesh.

Tension first arose between the two countries in November 2008 after Burma sent naval vessels to escort a Korean company exploring for oil and gas about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Bangladesh's Saint Martin Island.

Differences have also arisen between Burma and Bangladesh over the hundreds of Rohingya refugees from Burma’s Arakan State who have taken to the Bay of Bengal in open boats in search of a new home.

Burma’s Consul General in Hong Kong, Ye Myint Aung, wrote to heads of foreign missions there and local newspapers insisting the Muslim Rohingyas should not be described as being from Burma, the South China Morning Post reported.

The agency AFP said the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday that Ye Myint Aung had described the Rohingya boat people as "ugly as ogres."

The Burmese diplomat was quoted as saying: "In reality, Rohingya are neither Myanmar people nor Myanmar's ethnic group."

The envoy contrasted the "dark brown" Rohingya complexion with the "fair and soft" skin of people from Burma, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the US has assured Bangladesh of its support in patrolling its sea borders.

The assurance was given by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher at the close of a two-day visit to Bangladesh, according to the Qatar- based Gulf Times.

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