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Country Reports
Bangladesh , Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Bangladesh submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report on 28 August 2002 and its annual update on 29 April 2003. Bangladesh for the first time reported a stockpile of 204,227 antipersonnel mines, and indicated it will retain 15,000 antipersonnel mines for training. National implementation legislation is being prepared. Bangladesh is expected to become co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction in September 2003. No new mine casualties were reported in 2002 or early 2003.

Mine Ban Policy

Bangladesh signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 7 May 1998, ratified it on 6 September 2000 and the treaty entered into force for Bangladesh on 1 March 2001. Bangladesh reported in April 2003 that national implementation legislation was in its final stage of preparation.[1] In July 2003, the United Nations wing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was preparing the draft national legislation bill.[2] Bangladesh’s existing Penal Code does not allow civilians to possess of any kind of “explosive substance,” which would include antipersonnel mines.[3]

At the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, Bangladesh stated, “Our decision to become a party to the Convention was guided by a genuine humanitarian commitment that we made against real national security concerns and defence requirements.... As the only country in South Asia to have unilaterally committed to the Convention, we are acutely aware of our vulnerability in national defence terms.... We believe universalization remains central to the realization of the objectives of the Convention. We call upon those countries that have not yet joined the Convention to consider doing so, the sooner the better.”[4]

Bangladesh submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report one year late, on 28 August 2002. It subsequently submitted its annual updated report on time on 29 April 2003.[5]

Bangladesh participated in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003. In the May 2003 meetings Bangladesh offered to serve as co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction. Bangladesh cosponsored and voted in favor of the pro-Mine Ban Treaty UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74 on 22 November 2002, calling for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Bangladesh participates in the Bangkok Regional Action Group (BRAG), which was formed by States Parties from the Asia-Pacific region in September 2002 with the aim of promoting landmine ban initiatives in the region in the lead up to the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok in September 2003.

Bangladesh is party to the Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but did not attend the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties and did not submit its annual report as required under Article 13.

Production, Transfer, Use

Bangladesh officially stated that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines, nor “acquired any new arsenal in recent years.”[6] Military officials have repeatedly told Landmine Monitor that the Bangladesh Army has never used antipersonnel mines. In its statement to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Bangladesh asserted, “The Bangladesh army is a not user of landmines.”[7] The land border between Bangladesh and Burma is contaminated with mines laid by the Myanmar (Burmese) forces.[8] However, Myanmar forces are not known to have planted new mines on the border since 2001.[9]

More than half a dozen underground parties, identifying themselves as Marxists and Maoists, are active throughout the country and some of them are reported to be using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).[10]

Stockpiling and Destruction

In its initial Article 7 report Bangladesh revealed that it has a stockpile of 204,227 antipersonnel mines manufactured by Pakistan, the United States, India, Iran, China and the former Yugoslavia.[11]

In stockpile
Retained for Training
To be Destroyed
Mine AP NDP-2 (Pakistan)
Mine AP (NM) M-14 (USA/India)
Mine AP M-16 (T6) Fuze M605 (USA)
Mine AP Elec M-18 (A-1) (Iran)
Mine AP PMA-3 (Former Yugoslavia)
Mine AP T-69 (China)

The totals for stockpiled mines and retained mines include Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines (M18A1) that are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty if used only in command-detonated mode.

Bangladesh’s treaty-mandated deadline for completion of destruction of stockpiled antipersonnel mines is 1 March 2005. Bangladesh has stated that international assistance will be essential. It had not yet started destruction as of June 2003, but has developed an “Outline Plan of Destruction.”[12] Destruction will be carried out at the Central Ammunition Depot of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, located at Sripur in the Gazipur district. Both electric and non-electric methods of destruction will be used.[13] A three-phase program is envisioned: phase 1 to collect, centralize and prepare the mines for destruction (by 30 June 2004); phase 2 to prepare the destruction site and transport the mines to it (by 15 August 2004); phase 3 to carry out destruction, at an anticipated rate of 1,500 mines per day (by 31 January 2005).[14] The destruction cost has not been estimated yet.[15]

Bangladesh has reported that it intends to retain 15,000 antipersonnel mines under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty “for training purposes only.”[16] The Bangladesh Army training institutions and Engineer Units will be responsible for holding the retained mines. Bangladesh has not provided details on the intended purposes for the mines, or how the 15,000 number was determined. This is the fifth highest number of retained mines among all States Parties. Officials have indicated that the number is being reviewed and will possibly be reduced.[17]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Landmines are found along the border with Burma in Chittagong Hill Tracts in a 208-kilometer-long hilly area. The mine-affected areas are located in Ukhia and Ramu sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar district, and Naikongchari, Alikadam and Thansi sub-districts of Bandarban district. Most of the people living in mine-affected areas depend on forest resources for their subsistence.

The Bangladesh Army has several battalions with mine clearing capabilities. In 2003, the Army has 243 personnel engaged in mine clearance in Kuwait and 168 with the UN program in Eritrea and Ethiopia.[18]

In the past, Bangladesh border security forces have conducted mine clearance operations along the border with Burma. The two countries have been holding talks on the issue of mines along their border for years, but no joint action has been taken yet to survey or clear the mines. During a visit in December 2002, Myanmar General Khin Nyunt said, “We can also have more talks on matters about our common border issues in the greater interest of our close relations.”[19]

The Bangladesh government has provided no formal mine risk education in the mine-affected areas. Mine risk education activities by the Bangladesh border security force (BDR), community leaders, and village elders are carried out only in times of crisis when there is an increase in mine incidents. In December 2002 and in previous years, the Landmine Monitor researcher traveled to mine-affected areas and met with community leaders, mine survivors, victims’ families, and teachers and students of the Naikongchary College.[20] Landmine Monitor found that many people knew that there were mines along the border with Burma. However, people, even children, continued to enter forests to collect wood and bamboo. Six people coming out from the jungle were asked if they were aware of the mine danger; they replied, “We know about it but we have no other job to do.”[21]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

No new landmine casualties were reported in Bangladesh in 2002 or the first quarter of 2003.[22] Since 1993, 64 people have been killed and 131 injured in reported mine incidents. However, it is likely that many landmine casualties are unreported.[23]

In its April 2003 Article 7 Report, Bangladesh stated, “A report on the findings of reported cases of mine victims is being prepared through proper investigation and will be submitted as a supplement to this report.”[24]

A field survey conducted by Landmine Monitor in the mine-affected villages identified four centers that had assisted mine survivors: Memorial Christian Hospital, Hope Foundation, Jaipur Foot, and the local NGO Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims.[25] Interviews with mine survivors revealed that some needed replacement prostheses; others needed urgent medical care, which most of the survivors could not afford.[26]

In December 2002, Memorial Christian Hospital added one operating theater. The hospital also organizes medical camps every year for the distribution of artificial limbs in different parts of the country, mainly in remote areas. In 2001, prostheses were distributed in Cox’s Bazar town, in 2002 in Bandarbans, and in February 2003 at Patya. All places visited are about 40-100 kilometers away from mine-affected areas.[27] However, it appears that most survivors did not get assistance from the medical camps due to lack of information about them.

Rabita hospital located at Maricha, the closest medical center to the mine-affected area, resumed activities in December 2002 after a long closure.[28] In 2002, the government set up trauma centers by the side of four highways. It is also developing orthopedic units in some district hospitals and health complexes in sub-district headquarters.[29] One of the units is in the Cox’s Bazar District Hospital.

Bangladesh has legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.[30]

[1] Article 7 Report, Form A, 29 April 2003.
[2] Interview with M. Ruhul Amin, Director General, UN wing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 9 July 2003.
[3] The “Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act,” Law 1908 does not name antipersonnel mines, but by definition they fall within the act.
[4] Statement by Rabab Fatima, Counselor, Bangladesh Mission to the UN, Geneva, 17 September 2002.
[5] Article 7 Report, 28 August 2002 (for the period 5 March 2001-10 March 2002); Article 7 Report, 29 April 2003 (for the period 10 March 2002-29 April 2003).
[6] Statement by Rabab Fatima, Fourth Meeting of States Parties, 17 September 2002.
[7] Ibid.
[8] For further details see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 433.
[9] Interview with the people living in the border area on 23 December 2002 and interview with BDR (border security force), Naikongchari, 24 December 2002.
[10] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 99, identified two armed Bangladeshi groups, the Prity group and the United People’s Democratic Front, as having used booby-traps and IEDs.
[11] Article 7 Report, Form B, 28 August 2002. Details such as date of importation and location of stockpiles have not been made available.
[12] Article 7 Report, Forms F and G, 29 April 2003. Landmine Monitor has not seen the “Outline Plan of Destruction.” The Article 7 report states the plan is attached, but it is not available on the UN web site.
[13] Article 7 Report, Form F, 29 April 2003.
[14] Oral remarks of Counselor Rabab Fatima to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 15 May 2003; interview with M. Ruhul Amin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 9 July 2003.
[15] Interview with an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 11 March 2003.
[16] Article 7 Report, Form D, 29 April 2003.
[17] Interview with an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 4 November 2002; interview with Counselor Rabab Fatima, Geneva, 20 September 2002; remarks to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[18] Interview with M. Ruhul Amin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 10 July 2003.
[19] “Than Shwe given hearty send-off,” The Daily Independent, 19 December 2002, p. 1.
[20] Meetings with village elders, community leaders, victims’ families and survivors in December 1999, December 2000, January 2002, and December 2002; meetings with college teachers and students in December 2001.
[21] Landmine Monitor visits to mine-affected villages of Hatimura, Asartali, and Lembochari from 23-26 December 2002.
[22] Visits by Landmine Monitor to the mine-affected areas and interviews with staff at Naikongchary hospital, BDR personnel stationed at Naikongchary, and local community leaders, December 2002 and January 2003.
[23] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 100-101.
[24] Article 7 Report, Form I, 29 April 2003.
[25] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 101.
[26] Interviews with mine survivors from 18-20 November and 23-26 December 2002.
[27] Interview with Kenneth James, Director of Medical Maintenance, Memorial Christian Hospital, Malumghata, Cox’s Bazar, 14 February 2003.
[28] Interview with doctors at Rabita hospital, 22 December 2002.
[29] “4 trauma centers to be set up by highway side,” The Daily Independent, 24 October 2002, p. 16.
[30] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 101.