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Bangladesh

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 reportedly used COVID-19 crisis to silence critics, while security operations against alleged members of banned militant groups continued. Awami League govt accused of using COVID-19 to crackdown on dissenting voices following PM Hasina’s 31 March warning against spreading COVID-19-related rumours and NGO Human Rights Watch same day alleging govt “silencing those who express concern over the govt’s handling of the epidemic” using controversial Digital Security Act. Media director of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 9 April said paramilitary force had established “Cyber News Verification Centre”, arresting ten and investigating 50 others for spreading “misinformation and rumours” about coronavirus. Workers in export-orientated garment industry continued to flout COVID-19 lockdown, imposed 26 March, holding mass protest rallies countrywide, including in Chittagong 18 April, and demanding wages following closure of factories, hundreds of which re-opened by end-April; hundreds continued protests throughout month including in Rangpur, Kurigram, Satkhira and Jessore demanding food and other assistance. Amid concern over potential COVID-19 spread in Rohingya refugee camps, Hasina 7 April ordered restriction of entry to camps in Cox’s Bazar district for all except govt officials and authorised personnel, with govt next day imposing restrictions on all but emergency services and prohibiting entry of foreigners. Bangladesh Coast Guard 15 April rescued 400 Rohingya refugees after their boat blocked from landing in Malaysia due to COVID-19 restrictions; dozens died and many of those rescued close to death said NGO Médecins Sans Frontières; incident raised fears of a repeat of 2015 Rohingya maritime migration crisis. By end of month, several other boats still at sea, also prevented from landing in Malaysia and blocked by Bangladesh re-entering its waters. As part of anti-militancy efforts, police 2 April claimed to have killed member of banned Sarbahara party during gunfight in Naogaon district; RAB 27 April detained two members of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh in Sylhet District. Police 7 April arrested former army captain Abdul Majed, sentenced to death in 1998 for killing Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, in capital Dhaka; govt 12 April hanged Majed following President Hamid 8 April rejection of his appeal for clemency.

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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.