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

Opposition held countrywide protest rallies, fuelling tensions with govt, while deadly attacks in Rohingya refugee camps continued.

Amid economic crisis, tensions persisted between govt and opposition. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) held protest rallies at divisional headquarters countrywide against rising fuel, power and commodity prices, aimed at culminating in mass rally in capital Dhaka on 10 Dec. PM Sheikh Hasina 2 Nov told parliament BNP was attempting to destabilise politics amid economic crisis, warning govt would take action against those engaged in anti-govt activities. BNP sec gen same day said “our present goal is to intensify the movement” to force elections; Hasina next day warned against BNP “excesses”, threatening party’s chairperson could be sent back to jail. Notably, BNP 12 Nov held large-scale rally in Faridabad suburb, Dhaka division. Police same day arrested 32 BNP leaders and activists in Dhaka city on charges of “hatching an anti-government conspiracy”. Police 16 Nov fired rubber bullets at BNP party activists in Habiganj district, Sylhet division, who were planning rally, injuring 60, including ten police officers. Govt and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 9 Nov provisionally signed $4.5bn support program, which finance minister same day said would help prevent economic instability from escalating into crisis.

Security operations against militant groups continued. Security operations against suspected militants and separatists continued in Bandarband district. By 9 Nov, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) had arrested 29 suspected members of militant group Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya from Bandarband, Comilla and Narayanjanj districts. Two Ansar-al-Islam militants – sentenced to death for killing of secular publisher in 2015 – 19 Nov escaped from court; police 22 Nov arrested one accomplice.

Violence persisted in Rohingya refugee camps. After police late Oct launched operation in Cox’s Bazar camps to arrest at least 56 Rohingyas, including 24 suspected of murdering seven community leaders in recent months, police attributed 8 Nov killing of Rohingya man in Cox’s Bazar Teknaf sub-district to clash between rival Rohingya factions. Rohingya militants 14 Nov fired on RAB officials in Bandarband’s Konapara camp, killing woman and injuring security forces member.

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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

Shehryar Fazli


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