KONAPARA, Bangladesh—Myanmar’s military is fortifying its border with Bangladesh with a new fence, security forces and land mines, inflaming tensions with its neighbor and sending a “keep out” message to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees it drove from the country.
The chain-link fence, reinforced with barbed wire, anchored in concrete and buttressed in some sections with bunkers and military posts, now runs for much of the 170-mile border.
Rohingya say it is now impossible to get back into the country they left behind.
Bangladeshi border police and refugees say the Myanmar military has steadily fortified the border in recent weeks, part of a pattern of activity that could make permanent the expulsion of the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority despised in much of the Buddhist-majority country.
“They feel that they have been successful in driving the vast number of Rohingya out, and they are going to make it hell for them to return,” said Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has said it would allow the return of Rohingya who can prove they are from Myanmar, but it has set a high bar and rejected all but a few hundred of the first batch of 8,000 applicants, though many Rohingya trace their roots in Myanmar back several generations.