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Country Reports
Bangladesh , Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: Bangladesh became co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction in September 2003. In June 2004, Bangladesh stated that it may have trouble meeting its March 2005 stockpile destruction deadline, due to lack of funding. The process of drafting national implementation legislation is still underway. Bangladesh soldiers continue to engage in mine clearance in Kuwait and with the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia. In January 2004, UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar conducted a formal Mine Risk Education training for its staff, in order to prepare them to provide MRE to affected communities.

Key developments since 1999: Bangladesh became the first South Asian country to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty on 6 September 2000, and it entered into force on 1 March 2001. Bangladesh established a National Committee on implementation of the treaty in August 2001. In its first Article 7 report, submitted one year late in August 2002, Bangladesh for the first time reported a stockpile of 204,227 antipersonnel mines. It plans to keep 15,000 mines for training, the fourth highest total of all States Parties. Bangladesh became co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction in September 2003. Bangladesh soldiers have been engaged in mine clearance in Kuwait and with the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 2001, the Parliament adopted Bangladesh’s first comprehensive disability legislation. Since 1993, 64 people have been killed and 131 injured in reported landmine incidents. No new mine casualties have been reported since 2001.

Mine Ban Policy

The People’s Republic of Bangladesh signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 7 May 1998, ratified it on 6 September 2000, and became a State Party on 1 March 2001. It was the first State Party from the South Asia region. Announcing its ratification at the Second Meeting of States Parties in 2000, Bangladesh delegation stated, “Complete and general disarmament is a Constitutional commitment for Bangladesh. We view disarmament as an essential complement to our development priorities.”[1] Initially Bangladesh showed little interest in the Ottawa Process. In early 1998, Bangladesh undertook an in-depth examination of the utility of antipersonnel mines, which led to its signature of the treaty.

In August 2001, Bangladesh established the National Committee for the Implementation of the Obligations of the Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.[2] The Committee continues to carry out its responsibilities ensuring fulfillment of treaty obligations.[3] Bangladesh reported in April 2003 that national implementation legislation was in its final stage of preparation.[4] But in March 2004, the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Landmine Monitor that the process of drafting national implementation legislation was still underway, following the customary legislative procedures, and that a Bengali translation of the legislation will be submitted to an inter-ministerial meeting for vetting and then to the Parliament.[5]

At the Fifth Meeting of State Parties, Bangladesh became co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee Meeting on Stockpile Destruction. Bangladesh participated in the intersessional meetings for the first time in May 2002 and has attended all meetings since then.[6] Bangladesh submitted its third annual Article 7 report on 28 April 2004, covering the period from 28 April 2003 to 29 April 2004.[7]

In September 2003, Ambassador Hemayet Uddin stated, “I wish to stress that universalization remains central to the realization of the Convention. We believe more concerted efforts are needed in regions where many countries are yet to become party to the Convention. The Asia-Pacific region remains a challenge in this regard.”[8] Bangladesh participated 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 cosponsored and voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 58/53, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty, on 8 December 2003, as it did on all similar UNGA resolutions in previous years.

Bangladesh ratified Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons in 6 September 2000. It did not attend the Fourth and Fifth Annual Conferences and has not submitted its annual report required under the Article 13 of Protocol II.

Landmine Monitor's Bangladesh researcher and ICBL country representative, Rafique al Islam of Nonviolence International, was arrested in Cox’s Bazar on 21 August 2004. He was held without charge for more than two weeks, then charged and finally released on 19 September. The ICBL and others undertook a concerted effort to ensure his safety and secure his release, with campaigners taking action in 27 countries, and several governments making demarches. The ICBL remains convinced that the charges are unfounded and continues to advocate for the charges against Mr. al Islam to be dropped.[9]

Production, Transfer, Use

In 2002, Bangladesh officially stated that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines, nor “acquired any new arsenal in recent years.”[10] Military officials have repeatedly told Landmine Monitor that the Bangladesh Army has never used antipersonnel mines.[11] An Army official reiterated to Landmine Monitor in 2004, “We never used mines inside the country or on our common borders with Myanmar and India. We never supplied, traded or developed this technology.”[12]

Landmine Monitor has reported that in the past, the Myanmar military and Na Sa Ka (special border security forces for Arakan state) laid mines on the border, including inside Bangladesh territory.[13] However, Myanmar forces are not known to have planted new mines on the border since 2001.

More than half a dozen underground parties, identifying themselves as Marxists and Maoists, are active throughout the country and some of them have armed wings that are reported to be using bombs, booby-traps and victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs).[14] There are also reports that some of the Islamic militant organizations in the northern and western regions of the country are using IEDs.[15] Every month newspapers report at least three or four incidents related to armed non-state actors activities.[16]

There were several media reports in 2003 and 2004 that Bangladesh border security forces working in the Naikongchary area of the Bandarban district of Chittagong Hill Tracts recovered antipersonnel mines and antivehicle mines from the hideouts of foreign rebel groups in areas close to the border with Burma. In January 2004, troops seized 32 antivehicle mines and seven antipersonnel mines from “tribal gunmen.”[17]

At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Amb. Hemayetuddin expressed deep concern about non-state actors: “Another formidable challenge that confronts us is the threat posed by non-state actors who continue to remain big users of landmines, and yet remaining outside the purview of any legal obligations. There is need to reflect on this lacuna in the Convention. We believe that objectives of the Convention and its implementation should be non-discriminatory.”[18] During a Mine Ban Treaty meeting in February 2004, Bangladesh commended the efforts made by Geneva Call on the NSA issue.[19]

Stockpiling and Destruction

In its initial Article 7 report in 2002, Bangladesh for the first time revealed details about its stockpile of antipersonnel mines. It declared a stockpile of 204,227 antipersonnel mines manufactured by the former Yugoslavia, China, Pakistan, the United States, India, and Iran.[20]

In stockpile
Retained for Training
To be Destroyed
Mine AP NDP-2 (Pakistan)[21]
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 total 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. In September 2003, Bangladesh said, “The development of command-detonated mines, their use and sale would be another source of concern, if not humanitarian, of strategic import. This would be another case of vertical proliferation establishing discriminatory regimes and disparity between countries.”[22]

Bangladesh’s treaty-mandated deadline for completion of stockpile destruction is 1 March 2005. Bangladesh had planned to start its destruction program on 26 May 2004 and finish by 31 December 2004. Bangladesh has outlined a three-phase program to destroy 189,227 landmines: phase 1 to collect and centralize the mines (by 15 May 2004) and to prepare them for demolition (by 15 August 2004); phase 2 to prepare the destruction site and transport mines to the site (by 30 September 2004); phase 3 to carry out destruction at a rate of 2,100 antipersonnel mines per day (by 31 December 2004).[23] In January 2004, an Army official told Landmine Monitor that the destruction site was ready and that the Army only needed to collect the mines from different stockpile locations in the country and centralize them in a single depot.[24]

Destruction will be carried out at the Central Ammunition Depot of the Bangladesh Armed Forces located in Sripur in the Gazipur district. Both electric and non-electric methods of destruction will be used.[25] On 22 October 2003, a three-member technical assessment team from the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) visited Bangladesh to assess the destruction process. According to the government, “they have found technical and other safety and environmental standards to be satisfactory.”[26]

At the June 2004 Standing Committee meeting on Stockpile Destruction, Bangladesh reported that it had been unable to begin the destruction program because the UN Development Programme (UNDP) had not yet provided funds, as per a signed agreement, due to bureaucratic impediments. Bangladesh further stated that with the lack of clarity regarding funding, as well as the onset of monsoon season, it may have trouble meeting its destruction deadline. Bangladesh noted that discussions were ongoing with UNDP and with Canada, which had offered assistance.[27]

Bangladesh has chosen to retain 15,000 antipersonnel mines for training purposes. This is the fourth highest number of retained mines among all States Parties. In explaining the number, at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangladesh’s Ambassador stated, “First of all, these are essential for Bangladesh’s defence training needs, particularly in our specific geo-political context. Secondly, we need to train our engineering battalions for UN demining programs. In order to respond to the UN’s requirement, we have been preparing several of our army battalions with mine clearing capabilities.”[28] A Bangladesh Army official told Landmine Monitor, “If we provide more training we will have more expertise to send them [demining engineers] abroad according to UN requirements, and this is the reason why we need such an amount of antipersonnel mines for training purposes.”[29] Bangladesh’s April 2004 Article 7 report says the 15,000 mines are needed “to impart general training to Bangladesh Army personnel and specifically to assist engineering contingents to prepare for UN Peacekeeping Missions.”[30]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

In each of its Article 7 reports, the Bangladesh government has officially declared that there are no mined areas or suspected mined areas in Bangladesh.[31] However, landmines are found along the border with Myanmar (Burma) in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), which is a hilly area running for 208 kilometers.[32] Mine-affected areas are located in Ukhia and Ramu sub-districts in Cox’s Bazar district and Naikongchari, Alikadam and Thansi sub-districts in Bandarban district. Most of the people in these areas depend on forest resources for their subsistence. Unexploded ordnance from World War II and from the liberation war of 1971 is still found in different parts of the country and occasionally cause casualties.

The Bangladesh Army has several battalions with mine clearing capabilities. In September 2003, the Army had 243 personnel engaged in mine clearance in Kuwait and 168 with the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia.[33] They were still active in those countries in 2004. Bangladesh soldiers also cleared mines in Cambodia.[34]

In the past, Bangladesh border security forces conducted mine clearance along the border with Myanmar.[35] Bangladesh has asked Myanmar authorities to survey and assess the minefields on the border area, but no joint action has been taken yet.[36]

One of the rebel groups of Arakan who signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment claimed that they cleared mines from pillar No. 36-44 along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in 2001; the mines were mostly Myanmar-manufactured MM-1 and MM-2 types.[37]

Mine Risk Education

The Bangladesh government has provided no formal mine risk education, but has recently recognized the need, and encouraged NGOs including Nonviolence International-Bangladesh to introduce MRE in mine-affected areas.[38] On 10 January 2004, UNHCR’s Cox’s Bazaar sub-office conducted a formal MRE training for its local and expatriate staff, in order to prepare them to provide MRE to affected communities.[39]

Mine risk education activities have been carried out by Bangladesh’s border security force (BDR), community leaders, village elders and imams of mosques only in times of crisis when mine incidents increased. Two local NGOs, as well as local journalists, have warned people about the danger of mines through newspaper articles and seminars. During its field visits in 2003, Landmine Monitor found that villagers, including children, continue to enter mined areas in forests to collect wood and bamboo. Though many of them know that there may be mines, they are not aware of the risk.[40]

Landmines and UXO Casualties

In 2003 and early 2004, no new landmine casualties were reported.[41] The last reported mine casualties were in 2001. Since 1993, 64 people have been killed and 131 injured in reported landmine incidents. Of the deaths, ten occurred from 1993 to 1996, 17 in 1997, 13 in 1998, one in 1999, eight in 2000, and three in 2001; the year of the incident could not be ascertained for 12 fatalities. Of the total injuries, 124 people were injured up to 1998, one in 2000, and six in 2001. Most of the mine casualties were wood and bamboo cutters.[42] It is likely that more landmine incidents have gone unreported.[43] Many wild animals including tigers, pigs and elephants have also been killed by landmines.[44]

In addition, the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust identified 148 people who lost limbs in antipersonnel mine incidents during the independence war in 1971.[45] It would appear that many civilians were also killed or injured by mines during the war.[46] Research is currently underway to prepare a comprehensive list of mine survivors in Bangladesh.[47]

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.”[48] Information is being collected from NGOs working on disability issues. As of March 2004, information on 27 mine casualties had been received.[49]

Casualties have also been reported as a result of unexploded ordnance (UXO) dating back to World War II and the liberation war of 1971. In February 2002 in Nhila, Cox’s Bazar, six people were injured by UXO, including four children under the age of 13.[50] In August 2003, three people were killed and three others injured in an explosion in Gasbaria, about 30 kilometers south of Chittagong city.[51] It is likely that many more UXO incidents have gone unreported.

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice[52]

Assistance to mine survivors remains scarce and is not part of national policy or humanitarian programs, perhaps due to the relatively small number of casualties, the remoteness of mine-affected areas, and a lack of campaigning and advocacy for victim assistance. It seems that the government is now more engaged in the issue of mine victim assistance with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Social Welfare collecting information on landmine survivors throughout the country.[53] Interviews by Landmine Monitor with mine survivors revealed that some needed replacement prostheses; others needed urgent medical care, which most of the survivors could not afford.[54]

There are four main hospitals near the mine-affected areas: Cox's Bazar government hospital, Naikongchari government hospital, Rabita hospital and Memorial Christian hospital. All except Cox’s Bazar have reported providing assistance to mine casualties in the past. Government hospitals reportedly lack adequately trauma surgeons, surgical equipment and supplies.[55] Military mine casualties receive assistance at Army hospitals and facilities.

Rabita hospital, located at Maricha, the closest medical center to the mine-affected area, resumed activities in December 2002 after a long closure.[56] The only hospital near the mine-affected area with specialized facilities including a prosthetic workshop is Memorial Christian Hospital. Memorial Christian Hospital also organizes medical camps every year for the distribution of artificial limbs in different parts of the country, mainly in remote areas. In 1998, prostheses were distributed in Ukhia (a mine-affected area), in 2001 in Cox’s Bazar town, in 2002 in Bandarban, and in 2003 at Patiya.[57]

Other centers identified as assisting mine survivors in the past are Hope Foundation, Jaipur Foot, and the local NGO Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims (BRCT).[58] Handicap International-Bangladesh is planning to conduct a needs assessment in the mine-affected areas and Chittagong Hill Tracts.[59]

On 4 April 2001, the Parliament adopted Bangladesh’s first comprehensive disability legislation, the “Bangladesh Persons with Disability Welfare Act-2001.”[60]

[1] Statement by Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh at the Second Meeting of State Parties, Geneva, 12 September 2000.
[2] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 97.
[3] Statement by Amb. Hemayet Uddin, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 16 September 2003.
[4] Article 7 Report, Form A, 29 April 2003.
[5] Interview with Ismat Jahan, Director General, UN Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 9 March 2004.
[6] Bangladesh attended all of the annual Meetings of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, except for the third meeting held in Managua in September 2001.
[7] Bangladesh submitted its initial Article 7 report, due on 28 August 2001, one year later on 28 August 2002 (for 5 March 2001-10 March 2002), and an annual update on 29 April 2003 (for 10 March 2002-29 April 2003).
[8] Statement by Bangladesh, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, 16 September 2003.
[9] See ICBL’s website, www.icbl.org , for extensive information about the case, and actions taken in response.
[10] Statement by Rabab Fatima, Fourth Meeting of States Parties, 17 September 2002.
[11] See past editions of Landmine Monitor Report. Also, in its statement to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Bangladesh asserted, “The Bangladesh army is a not user of landmines.”
[12] Interview with Lt. Col. Mamun Ur Rashid, GSO-1, GS Brigade, Army Headquarters, Dhaka Cantonment, Dhaka, 25 January 2004.
[13] For further details see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 433.
[14] 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.
[15] Haroon Habib, “Islamic Militancy: The Shadow Lengthens,” The Daily Star, 29 December 2003.
[16] For example, “Three injured in bomb blast,” The Daily Independent, 17 February 2004; “3 children injured by exploding bomb while collecting vegetables,” The Daily Janakanta, 18 February 2004; “Bomb found in Mymensingh, blast at Sirajganj,” The Daily Independent, 23 February 2004; “Two bomb-makers killed in Khulna blast,” The Daily Independent, 25 February 2004.
[17] “Security tightened in Bandarban,” The Daily Independent, 28 August 2003; “Several foreign militant groups are active inside the jungle of Naikongchari and Ukhia,” The Daily Pratom Alo, 17 November 2003; “Bangladesh troops seize mines after gun battle,” Reuters (Bandarban), 1 January 2004; “Deadly device seized in CHT,” The Daily Star, 2 January 2004. From 1994 to 1996 the border security forces recovered and destroyed 63 antipersonnel mines according to information supplied by the Sector Headquarters, Chittagong, in 2000.
[18] Statement by Bangladesh, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, 16 September 2003.
[19] Intervention by Ismat Jahan, Director General, UN division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the Review Conference, Geneva, 13 February 2004.
[20] Article 7 Report, Forms B, D, and G, 28 April 2004. The same information in is the 2002 and 2003 reports.
[21] NDP-2 is not a common nomenclature. This is likely Pakistan’s P2 Mk 2 mine.
[22] Statement by Bangladesh, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, Thailand, 16 September 2003.
[23] Article 7 Report, Annex A, 28 April 2004. The original “Outline Plan of Destruction” has changed only with respect to the timeline and destruction rate per day. See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p 107.
[24] Interview with Lt. Col. Mamun Ur Rashid, Army Headquarters, 25 January 2004.
[25] Article 7 Report, Form F, 28 April 2004.
[26] Ibid. Also, interview with Lt. Col. Mamun Ur Rashid, Army Headquarters, 25 January 2004.
[27] Statement by Ismat Jahan, Director General, UN Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Standing Committee Meeting on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 24 June 2004 (Landmine Monitor notes); Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Meeting Report, Geneva, 24 June 2004.
[28] Statement by Bangladesh, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, 16 September 2003.
[29] Interview with Lt Col Mamun Ur Rashid, Army Headquarters, 25 January 2004.
[30] Article 7 Report, Form D, 28 April 2004.
[31] Article 7 Reports, Forms C and I, 28 April 2004, 29 April 2003, 28 August 2002.
[32] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 434.
[33] Statement by Bangladesh, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 16 September 2003.
[34] Interview with Lt. Col. Mamun Ur Rashid, Army Headquarters, 20 April 2004.
[35] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 447, and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 435.
[36] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p.435.
[37] Telephone interview with Katherine Kramer, Geneva Call, Geneva, 12 April 2004.
[38] Interviews with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Armed Forces Division officials, January 2004.
[39] John Campbell, security officer, UNHCR, Asia Pacific region, conducted this training and the Landmine Monitor researcher for Bangladesh gave a briefing on the landmine problem in the country. UNHCR sub-office, Cox’s Bazar, 10 January 2004.
[40] Landmine Monitor visited mine-affected areas in November and December 2003.
[41] Field visit by Landmine Monitor in November and December 2003; interview with doctors working at Cox’s Bazar District Hospital, 12 March 2004.
[42] Sources include BDR official papers, local newspapers, the NGO Bangladesh Rehabilitation for Trauma Victims, interviews with mine-affected villagers from 10-17 January 2002, and interviews with leaders of NSAs, 27 March 2002.
[43] Interview with Maksud Ahmed, Journalist and President of Rangamati Press Club, Rangamati, CHT, 10 January 2004.
[44] Interview with villagers and community elders in mine-affected villages; interview with Maj. Mazaharul Islam, Second in Command BDR, Naikongchari, 25 December 2000.
[45] Interview with Shawkat Nabi, Director Welfare, Bangladesh Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust, Dhaka, 22 April 2004.
[46] Dr. Amzad Hossain, Professor and Head of Orthopedic and Trauma surgery, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, has information on civilian mine casualties in Dinajpur district where he fought during the 1971 war of independence.
[47] The Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines provided a small grant to Nonviolence International Bangladesh to conduct research on mine survivors from the war of independence, survivors on the Bangladesh-Burma border, and children and women injured by IEDs. Bangladesh Freedom Fighters’ Association is also providing information.
[48] Article 7 Report, Form I, 29 April 2003.
[49] Interview with Ismat Jahan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 March 2004.
[50] “Explosion of abandoned bomb of WW-2: 6 got injured,” The Daily Cox’s Bazar, 19 February 2002.
[51] Interview with local residents in Gasbaria on 20 August 2003. Local police claim that the object was an old gas cylinder while local people claim it was an old bomb mistakenly collected by a metal seller thinking it was a gas cylinder. The object exploded as it was being cut.
[52] For more details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, pp. 101-102.
[53] Interview with Ismat Jahan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 March 2004.
[54] Interviews with mine survivors from 18-20 November and 23-26 December 2002.
[55] Interview with Dr. Rahim Ullah, Director and Surgeon, Rabita Hospital, 10 January 2000.
[56] Interview with doctors at Rabita hospital, 22 December 2002.
[57] Interview with Kenneth James, Director of Medical Maintenance, Memorial Christian Hospital, Malumghata, Cox’s Bazar, 14 February 2003.
[58] Field visits by Landmine Monitor to the mine-affected areas in 2001, 2002, and 2003.
[59] Interview with Anne Pignard, country representative, HI-Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1 March 2004.
[60] “Bangladesh Persons with Disability Welfare Act, 2001.”