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Country Reports
BANGLADESH, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Mine Ban Policy

Bangladesh signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 7 May 1998. It remains the only South Asian country to have signed. It has not yet ratified the treaty. Bangladesh showed little interest in the Ottawa process, and came to the Oslo negotiations and Ottawa treaty signing ceremonies in December 1997 only as an observer. Thus, it surprised many when Bangladesh signed five months later. In early 1998 Bangladesh undertook an in-depth examination of the utility of antipersonnel mines, but some observers believe that ultimately it was a political decision to overrule the military.[1]

Bangladesh attended the First Meeting of States Parties to the ban treaty in Maputo, Mozambique in May 1999. At the Hague Appeal for Peace conference in the Netherlands in May 1999, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister told the ICBL’s Jody Williams that she strongly supported rapid ratification of the ban treaty.[2] Bangladesh military officials attended the ICRC’s regional seminar on landmines, held in Sri Lanka in August 1999. Bangladesh voted for the pro-ban treaty UNGA resolution in December 1999, as it had in 1997 and 1998. In March 2000, a leader of the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, told Landmine Monitor, “If the present government does not ratify the Mine Ban Treaty, we will do it on a priority basis if voted to power in future.”[3] Bangladesh has not participated in the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional work program of Standing Committees of Experts.

Bangladesh has not signed the Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, though it attended the First Annual Conference for States Parties to Protocol II in December 1999. Bangladesh is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been a strong proponent or opponent of mine negotiations in that forum.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

According to officials, Bangladesh has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines.[4.] The government acknowledges that there is a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but a foreign ministry official told Landmine Monitor that “stockpiling of antipersonnel mines in Bangladesh is very negligible in comparison to the neighboring countries.”[5] The number, types, and suppliers of the mines are unknown. The military maintains that it has never employed antipersonnel mines.[6] The Shanti Bahini and other opposition groups that have fought with the Bangladesh Army also state that they have not used antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices in the past.[7] Armed rebel groups from India and Burma are said to be hiding inside Bangladesh, but there is no evidence of stockpiling or use of antipersonnel mines by these groups within Bangladesh territory.[8]

Landmine Problem

There are mines along the border with Burma, planted by the Burmese Army in order to stop cross-border guerrilla activities. According to a Bangladesh military officer, the Burmese Army has laid mines up to 300 feet inside Bangladesh, including on agricultural land.[9] The Burmese Army has also reportedly planted mines in response to border incidents.[10] A Bangladesh military officer told Landmine Monitor that the Burmese Na Sa Ka (special security forces for the Arakan province) have used mines to funnel the trafficking in smuggled goods past their outposts so that they can extort a share of this trafficking.[11]

Mined lands include the Ukhia and Ramu sub-districts of the Cox's Bazar district and the Naikongchari, Alikadam and Thansi sub-districts of the Banderban district. As these areas are mostly hilly, human habitation is not so dense. Perhaps some 200,000 people, most belonging to the Ukhia, Ramu, and Naikongchari sub-districts, who depend on occupations connected with hilly areas are affected by the presence of mines in those areas.[12] Mined areas are not marked or fenced.

Mine Clearance

The Bangladesh Army has several battalions with mine clearing capabilities. Bangladesh soldiers have cleared mines in Kuwait, Cambodia, and on peacekeeping operations, as well as inside Bangladesh. Two Bangladeshi battalions are engaged in mine clearance in Kuwait under the supervision of Kuwaiti Engineering Corps. [13]

According to a Bangladesh Rifles source, from June 1994 to October 1996, sixty-three antipersonnel mines were cleared in the Chakdala, Fultali, Rejupara, Ashartali, and Lembu Chari areas.[14] In 1997, the Bangladesh Rifles cleared a five-kilometer-long area from Ghumdum to Tambru in Naikongchari sub-district.[15] A journalist reports that another four mines were recovered from paddy land in Chakdala on 20 June 1998.[16]

Bangladesh has repeatedly requested Burmese authorities to survey and assess the border minefields. Burma has generally not responded positively, though on 17 July 1999 Burmese Foreign Minister Aung, while visiting Bangladesh, said that his country was “ready to cooperate with Bangladesh experts.”[17] To date no action has been taken. Burmese authorities have claimed that they cleared mines along the border from October 1997 to January 1998, though there continue to be victims.

Bangladesh has neither received nor given any mine action funding.

Mine Awareness

The government has provided no mine awareness education. Two NGOs, the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims and Human Concern, as well as local journalists, have warned people about the existence of mines. But this awareness education remains limited to only a section of educated people, and does not reach the majority of the population living in suspected mined areas.

Landmine Casualties

Of the 120 million people of Bangladesh only a small portion are affected by landmines. From the death of two youths in 1993 until May 2000, the death toll by landmine blasts numbers at least fifty-three, according to data compiled from a variety of sources.[18] At least 125 more have been injured by mines. Of the fifty-three deaths, ten occurred from 1993-1996, seventeen in 1997, thirteen in 1998, one in 1999, and the year could not be ascertained for twelve deaths. The victims include both Bangladesh nationals and Burmese Rohingya ethnic minorities. Most of the mine victims are woodcutters. They also include some farmers, two traders, one ex-police constable and a Bangladesh Rifles soldier. Except for one tribal woman and one child, all victims have been males aged between 14 and 40.[19] It is likely that many more landmine incidents have gone unreported and unrecorded. Numerous elephants and other wild animals have also fallen victim to mines.

Survivor Assistance

There is very little in the way of assistance to mine survivors and the relatives of victims. One maimed survivor received an artificial leg free of cost from the organization Jaïpur Foot. An organization run by Human Concern and the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims, based at Cox's Bazar, supplied artificial legs to three survivors. It appears that one survivor from the Bangladesh Rifles got treatment from the government. But assistance remains scarce and is not a part of national policy or humanitarian programs.

There are four hospitals near mine-affected areas: Cox's Bazar government hospital, Naikongchari government hospital, Rabita hospital and Memorial Christian hospital. Staff members from all except Cox’s Bazar told Landmine Monitor that they have provided treatment to some mine victims. Government hospitals most of the time run short of surgeons and surgical equipment and supplies. Rabita hospital often refers complicated cases to other hospitals.[20] Memorial Christian hospital is said to have a good orthopedic department with necessary equipment and technicians. Psychological care of victims appears non-existent at both government and private hospitals.

Hospital personnel state that victims of explosives and firearms are reluctant to come to hospitals in Bangladesh, as they fear police inquiries each time such accidents are reported. Thus mine victims may not go to a hospital, but instead seek the help of other medical personnel.[21]

Recently the government declared that ten percent of the total population is disabled, physically or mentally. To assist them, the government has formed a trust fund with one hundred million in Bangladeshi Taka (about $2 million). It is unclear if mine survivors are included. In addition, adoption of a disability law is underway, with cabinet approval on 8 May 2000.[22]


[1] Dipankar Banerjee, “South Asian Regional Survey,” 1999, p. 24. Banerjee based this on observations form the South Asian Regional Landmines Workshop, held in Dhaka, 7-8 December 1998, attended by senior Bangladesh government officials, including two serving Brigadiers. For more on the military utility review, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 382.
[2] Landmine Monitor telephone interview with Jody Williams, Alexandria, VA, 7 June 2000.
[3] Interview with Mr. Mir Nasir Uddin, Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Central Committee of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Chittagong, 7 March 2000.
[4.]Interview with Col. Mohammed Wali Ullah, Sector Commander of Bangladesh Rifles (border security force), Chittagong, 30 November 1999.
[5] Interview with Mrs. Saida Muna Tasneem, Assistant Secretary, United Nations Human Rights wing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 22 January 2000.
[6] Interview with Col. Mohamed Wali Ullah, Bangladesh Rifles, Chittagong, 30 November 1999.
[7] Interviews with ex-militant of the Shanti Bahini ethnic rebel group, Chittagong, 17 February and 8 March 2000. Interviews with Marxist and Maoist militants, Chittagong, 18 February 2000, and Dhaka, 20 February 2000.
[8] See, for example, The Daily Janakantha, 28 March 2000; The Chinta, 15 October 1999, and, Tofail Ahmed, “Cox’s Bazar is new and safe route for arms trafficking,” The Daily Janakantha, 16 January 2000.
[9] Interview with Lt. Col. Mirza, Battalion Commander, Bangladesh Rifles, Cox’s Bazar, 18 December 1999.
[10] See, for example, “Innumerable high explosive mines on vast area of Naikongchari,” The Daily Saikat, Cox’s Bazar, 3 August 1999; “One Na Sa Ka Captain and two others killed in landmine explosion on 4 Oct. 1996 near Bangladesh-Burma border at Fansi village,” The Newsletter (monthly), Arakan, Burma, November 1996.
[11] Interview with Col. Mohammed Wali Ullah, Chittagong, 30 November 1999. Similar information was provided in interviews with border area community leaders, Ukhia and Gundum, 1 and 2 January 2000.
[12] Interview with community leaders of Ukhia District, 7 December 1999. Also, Non-violence International (Southeast Asia Office) interview with Anis Ahmed, Reuters, Dakha, 15 December 1999.
[13] Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait, “Landmines and the Destruction of the Environment of Kuwait,” 1999, p. 120.
[14] Interview with Col. Mohamed Wali Ullah, Chittagong, 30 November 1999.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Interviews with reporter Mr. Nazrul Islam Bakshi, Cox’s Bazar, 7 December 1999 and 14 February 2000.
[17] “Dhaka Yangon official talks inconclusive,” The Daily Independent, 18 July 1999.
[18] Sources include Border Security Force, NSA of Arakan, local NGOs, media, hospitals, interviews with community leaders.
[19] Landmine Monitor researcher data collection from Bangladesh Rifles, newspapers, local NGOs, and local community leaders.
[20] Interview with Dr. Rahim Ullah, Director and Surgeon of Rabita Hospital, 10 January 2000.
[21] Interviews with Dr. Safique-ul-Islam and Dr. Abul Quasem, Cox's Bazar Government Hospital, 18-19 December 1999, and Dr. Rahim Ullah, Rabita Hospital, 10 February 2000.
[22] Telephone interview with the Secretary General of the National Forum of Organizations Working with the Disabled, Dakha, 9 May 2000.