Call to join Myanmar rebel group spreads panic in Bangladesh hills

Call to join Myanmar rebel group spreads panic in Bangladesh hills

SAM Staff,

Panic has spread in the hilly areas of Bandarban after Myanmar-based Arakan Army (AA) sent letters to Bangladeshi youths, inviting them to join the insurgent group.

Youths living in remote areas of Thanchi and Ali Kadam, bordering Myanmar, received these letters recently.

Panicking, they are now reportedly taking shelter in Thanchi upazila.

Thanchi Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Jahangir Alam confirmed receipt of the letters.

Written in Burmese, the letter asked old members of the group to participate in training slated for March 31. It also asked the members to recruit young people from the hilly areas.

Following the letter, the local administration, public representatives, and security forces, held a meeting on Tuesday with Thanchi UNO, Jahangir Alam, in the chair. A number of youths of the border areas also reportedly attended the meeting. The meeting asked the youths not to panic.

Locals in the border areas said some Marma youths have already joined the group out of fear, while others have escaped their homes.

Thanchi Upazila Chairman Kwa Hla Ching Marma said: “The letter invited Bangladeshi youths to join the Arakan Army. We have already held a meeting on the matter.”

“But the location of the Arakan Army camp was not mentioned in the letter. We also do not know where the camp is. We have directed all to be alert.”

Anupam Marma is a local journalist of Thanchi who knows Burmese. He said: “According to the letter, a 15-day training will begin on March 31. Those interested are requested to come to the camp by March 28. At the end of the letter it mentioned Camp-2, Battalion No 215, Rakhine Army.”

He said many young people have already taken shelter with their relatives out of fear.

Thanchi police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Abdus Sattar said: “I have heard about the letter. But I did not attend the meeting held this week on behalf of the administration. The Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is looking into the matter since these are border areas.”

Bolipara BGB Battalion acting captain Major Ruhul Amin said: “We have already held a meeting with the administration. Our battalion members remain alert on the border s.”

“We have already discussed the issue. There is no need to worry about it,” said Bandarban Deputy Commissioner Md Aslam Hossain.