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Years of deadlock between the two main political parties, the Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have caused governance breakdowns, narrowed political debate, eroded the rule of law and widened social divisions. The continued threat of jihadist violence      exacerbates these problems. Meanwhile, Bangladesh struggles to accommodate the presence of an estimated one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, whose return appears unlikely any time soon. Crisis Group aims to reduce conflict risks, including the spread of militancy, arising from political stagnation; to promote inclusive and accountable democratic institutions; and to urge adequate assistance for the refugees until conditions allow for safe return.

CrisisWatch Bangladesh

Unchanged Situation

Govt continued crackdown on critics under Digital Security Act, while concerns over relocation of Rohingya refugees to flood prone Bashan Char island persisted. Authorities continued to stifle dissent under Digital Security Act (DSA). Notably, counter-terrorism police 13 June pressed DSA charges against seven people alleging involvement in anti-govt activities; cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, who had been released on bail in March, among those charged. NGO Transparency International 8 June reported that DSA used against at least 85 journalists since start of COVID-19 pandemic. Day before local elections, Awami League factions 20 June clashed in Ghazipur district, injuring ten people; clashes on election day also left two killed and two injured in Barisal district. In Chittagong city, counter-terrorism police 11 June arrested alleged member of banned Ansar al-Islam who recently returned from Syria where he had joined Islamic State in 2017. After four-day visit to Bangladesh, UN Refugee Agency senior representatives 2 June said Bashan Char had “some potential, though the human and protection elements of refugees living there must be fully considered”. Human Rights Watch report 7 June said Rohingya refugees had been moved to Bashan Char “without full informed consent”, urging donors to support refugees right to return to mainland; FM Momen same day responded: “If they have so much sympathy, let them take them back to their country”. In Noakhali District, police 10 June detained 12 Rohingya refugees, including four children, who had escaped Bashan Char. Human Rights Watch 15 June claimed UN refugee agency had shared refugees’ personal data with authorities, asserting practices were “contrary to the agency’s own policies and exposed refugees to further risk”. During meeting with senior UN officials in New York, FM Momen 17 June stressed importance of UN operations in Bashan Char; Bangladesh 18 June abstained from UN General Assembly resolution on Myanmar crisis as it did not recommend repatriation of Rohingya refugees. Police 12-14 June recovered bodies of six Rohingyas, including four children, who drowned in Naf River when boats overturned as they attempted to enter Bangladesh from Myanmar.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

16 Dec 2016
These organizations [in Bangladesh] — whether they’re jihadists or student wings of parties like Jamaat-e-Islami — they’re becoming more attractive avenues of opposition. Foreign Policy

Shehryar Fazli

Former Senior Analyst and Regional Editor, South Asia

Latest Updates

Op-Ed / Asia

Rohingya Deserve Non-violent Leadership

Originally published in Asia Times

Report / Asia

The Long Haul Ahead for Myanmar’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from brutal military operations in Myanmar are stuck in Bangladesh, with returns to Myanmar unlikely soon and Bangladeshi goodwill being tested. In Myanmar, international partners must be allowed access to northern Rakhine State. In Bangladesh, donors must help both refugees and their local hosts.

Also available in Burmese, 简体中文
Commentary / Asia

Myanmar/Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Calamity and a Two-country Crisis

More than one million Muslim Rohingya forced to flee from Myanmar now live in camps in south-eastern Bangladesh. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to increase funding for refugee assistance and use diplomatic leverage to find a compromise on the issue of refugee repatriation.

Report / Asia

Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis Enters a Dangerous New Phase

The mass flight of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine State has created a humanitarian catastrophe and serious security risks, including potential cross-border militant attacks. The international community should press the Myanmar government to urgently implement the Annan commission’s proposals, including as regards discrimination, segregation and citizenship.