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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

Deteriorated Situation

Clashes between ruling party factions around local elections killed over 45 and injured more than 100. In run-up to second phase of elections held for lowest tier of local govt 11 Nov, clashes broke out between rival ruling Awami League (AL) factions, killing scores; opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted polls. Notably, clash 4 Nov killed three and injured ten in Narsingdi district; 5 Nov killed one in Cox’s Bazar district; 8 Nov killed two and injured 35 in Pabna and Meherpur districts. On election day, at least seven people were killed in clashes in Narsindi, Comilla, Cox’s Baaar, and Chittagong districts; more than 100 were injured in election-related violence throughout country. In run-up to third phase of local polls, Awami League clashes 25-28 Nov left three dead in Brahmanbaria, Bhola and Tangail districts. On polling day, violence left multiple dead and injured in Tangail, Lakshmipur, Narsingdi, Khulna, Jessore, Thakurgaon and Munshiganj districts. Fourth phase of polls due on 26 Dec and fifth phase on 5 Jan 2022. Arrests of alleged militants continued throughout month. Authorities detained alleged Jamaatul Mujahideen member in capital Dhaka and 24 Nov detained suspected Ansar al-Islam member in Dinajpur district. Ruling Awami League govt continued to use controversial Digital Security Act to silence criticism. Under law, authorities 2 Nov issued arrest warrants against two prominent journalists, 8 Nov indicted photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol in three cases. BNP 24 Nov began eight-day protest calling on govt to allow critically ill leader and former PM Khaleda Zia to seek treatment abroad. Police 3 Nov found dead alleged leader of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in Whykong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar; police said mob likely lynched him. Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion 8 Nov claimed to have found illegal arms factory in Ukhiya camp in Cox’s Bazar, detaining three Rohingya men. Meanwhile, UN 1 and 8 Nov conducted second visit to flood-prone Bhasan Char island refugee camp to assess needs; seventh phase of relocation of refugees to Bhasan Char began 25 Nov after six month gap, with 1,500 more Rohingyas transferred to island.

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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.