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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

Security forces continued operations against alleged members of banned militant groups while govt attempted to reduce tensions with India. Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 12 Jan arrested two suspected members of Allahr Dal militant group in Khulna city; same day, police detained suspected Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh member in capital Dhaka. In efforts to reduce tensions with Delhi following India’s Dec Citizenship Amendment Act – which grants citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan who had entered India before 2015, ostensibly in effort to protect religious minorities – Information Minister 15 Jan visited India; PM Hasina 17 Jan said govt did not understand why bill passed and labelled it unnecessary, but added it was “internal matter”. Amid continued focus on issue of border killings of Bangladeshi citizens by Indian forces, FM Momen 12 Jan said India agreed to stop killings but they were still occurring. Insecurity remained high in Rohingya refugee camps in south; in Cox’s Bazar, border guards 6 Jan killed two refugees accused of drug trafficking, allegedly in gunfight at Ukhiya sub-district, and RAB 31 Jan killed suspected Rohingya drug dealer in gunfight in Teknaf sub-district. Momen 1 Jan accused Myanmar of reluctance to take back refugees, warned prolonging crisis would create pockets of radicalisation; head of border guard delegation at 5-9 Jan conference with Myanmar Police Force in Dhaka said refugees “vulnerable to extremism and other illicit activities”. Govt 28 Jan announced it will allow formal education for Rohingya refugee children using Myanmar curriculum, starting with pilot program for 10,000. Following 10 Jan launch of election campaign for 1 Feb Dhaka city corporation polls, govt cracked down on opposition Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP). BNP mayoral candidates lodged complaints with electoral officials of harassment and intimidation, urging election commission to prevent police from acting on pending cases against BNP candidates and supporters until after election; police 15 Jan arrested BNP leader campaigning for mayoral candidacy on four cases filed in 2013. Election campaign saw instances of violence including clashes between supporters of BNP and ruling-Awami League candidates in south Dhaka 26 Jan, injuring at least ten.

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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.