Political repression is reaching new highs in Bangladesh. The government’s abuse of rule of law institutions for political ends has created an atmosphere of injustice that is increasingly exploited by anti-state extremist groups. The gruesome recent killing of a secular blogger is just another tragic result of these groups' growing power and impunity.
UN reported over 500,000 Myanmar Rohingyas fleeing crackdown by Myanmar military since 25 Aug (see Myanmar) had entered Bangladesh by 28 Sept. Govt strengthened provision for refugees with extra land allocation and construction of roads and makeshift settlements. PM Hasina during visit to Ukhiya refugee camp 12 Sept pledged full support to Rohingyas for temporary period. Foreign ministry pushed proposal for safe zone inside Myanmar for Rohingyas; at UN General Assembly, Hasina lobbied for quick return of refugees. Warning of deteriorating humanitarian situation, UN refugee agency praised response of Bangladesh communities to refugees. Bangladesh accused Myanmar military of violating its airspace late Aug and several times in Sept, and of laying landmines near border. Amid ongoing conflict between judiciary and govt, Supreme Court chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, scheduled to retire Jan 2018, left country 10 Sept for personal reasons, provoking speculation he will not serve remaining months of tenure. Parliament 14 Sept adopted resolution seeking review of Supreme Court’s July verdict which declared 16th constitutional amendment unconstitutional. Law enforcement agencies 6 Sept reported discovering militant sleeper cell in Dhaka’s Mirpur area, near main police station; during three-day operation, alleged militant detonated suicide bomb, killing himself and six family members and associates; security forces also discovered large arms and ammunition cache. Security agencies made several arrests of alleged jihadists, including two alleged members of so-called ISIS-linked “neo-Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh” 9 Sept, and 20 Sept arrested alleged neo-Jamaatul Mujahidin recruiter. Media 23 Sept reported plan by several security guards with alleged ISIS links to assassinate PM Hasina on 24 Aug had been foiled; govt denied reports.
Violence continues to plague the aftermath of Bangladesh’s deeply contested January 2014 elections. The country’s two main post-independence parties must turn back from a political dead end that is doing long-term damage to them both, negotiate a return to democratic rules and work towards a new all-party cabinet to oversee new elections.
Bangladesh faces growing political violence in the lead-up to the 2013 elections unless the government takes a more conciliatory approach towards the opposition.
Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terrorist organisation, remains active and dangerous despite the decimation of its ranks over the last five years.
After decades of misuse and neglect, Bangladesh’s police are a source of instability and fear rather than a key component of a democratic society.
Bangladesh’s 29 December 2008 general election is expected to end a two year military-enforced state of emergency and return the country to democratic governance.
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.
Originally published in Nikkei Asian Review
Originally published in World Politics Review
The brutal murder of a law student blogger who had criticized Islamist groups in Bangladesh has underlined the growing power and impunity of the country's extremist rump. The death of Nazumuddin Samad, 28, who was hacked and shot to death on April 7, has also highlighted how the rise of religious extremism is affecting the country's image and its efforts to advance economically.
Originally published in The Nikkei Asian Review