Myanmar envoy summoned over St Martin’s

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DHAKA, Feb 14, 2019 (BSS) – The foreign ministry today summoned Myanmar’s acting ambassador as the neighbouring country again tended to show St Martin’s island as its territory on a government map.

Director General (South East Asia wing) M Delwar Hossain summoned Ambassador Aung Kyaw to his office in the afternoon and handed over a strongly-worded protest note to him.

“We handed over to him a strong protest note for the map and asked the Myanmar authority to rectify their map and assure Bangladesh that they won’t do it further in future,” Delwar told newsmen after handing over the protest note to the Myanmar envoy.

This is for the second time the website of Myanmar’s ministry of labour, immigration and population has showed St Martin’s as their territory.

Delwar said continuation of such misrepresentation, despite the previous assurance of Myanmar for effective measures to permanently redress the issue, could be construed as a deliberate attempt of Myanmar.

He said the Myanmar envoy today acknowledged that it’s a mistake from their side and it should not be done by any means.

“He (Myanmar envoy) assured us to convey Bangladesh’s protest to the authority concerned of Myanmar for rectifying the misrepresentation immediately on the map and if possible, by tomorrow,” he said.

On October 6 last year, Maritime Affairs Unit Secretary at the foreign ministry Rear Admiral (retd) M Khurshed Alam summoned Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka U Lwin Oo and handed over a similar protest note to him.

On that day, the Myanmar ambassador acknowledged the matter as mistake and on October 21, Myanmar affirmed through a note verbale that the organization has also removed all links which falsely mentioned the Saint Martin’s Island.”

But the interactive map section of the website of Department of population under the ministry of labour, immigration and population of Myanmar (www.dop.gov.mn) containing various geographic information system (GIS) data still shows the similar data gradients like population and land type for St Martin’s of Bangladesh as those of Myanmar.

Besides, the website of Myanmar Statistical Information Services (www.mmsis.gov.mm) shows the Saint Martin’s island of Bangladesh with the same color as that of Rakhine state while a different color has been used for other parts of Bangladesh.

Instead of removing the misinformation from the website, Delwar said the Myanmar authority put a disclaimer mentioning that the map does not guarantee accuracy and it should not be constructed or used as a legal description. “The map also allows access to external open data which are not under the responsibility of the government of Myanmar,” the disclaimer added.

While Saint Martin’s island of Bangladesh is being presented on the governmental websites of Myanmar as its territory, Myanmar cannot deny its responsibilities of this utter misrepresentation just adding a disclaimer, the director general said.

He said all entries, particularly the government organizations, are supposed to publish only authentic information on their websites.

When Burma got separated from British-India, St Martin’s remained part of the then undivided India. During the subsequent 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, St Martin’s automatically became part of the then Pakistan, and it became part of Bangladesh after its independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Later, Bangladesh’s 2012 victory in an international tribunal over the maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar reconfirmed that St Martin’s is an integral part of Bangladesh.

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