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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 to arrest alleged members of banned militant groups while relations with India soured. Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police 5 Dec detained two alleged members of Ansar al-Islam (also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team, ABT) in capital Dhaka, 8 Dec arrested four alleged ABT militants in Noakhali district in south, 18 Dec arrested at least four in capital Dhaka. RAB and police 11 Dec arrested four suspected Allahr Dal members in Khulna city south west of capital, three in Dhaka 18 Dec, and five in Khulna district 29 Dec. Relations with India deteriorated after Indian parliament 11 Dec passed law providing citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan who had entered country before 2015, ostensibly in effort to shield religious minorities fleeing persecution. FM Momen criticised bill, rejected remarks that Bangladeshi Hindus face religious persecution; next day FM cancelled 12-14 Dec visit to India. Dhaka 12 Dec lodged complaint against attack same day on Bangladeshi Assistant High Commissioner’s convoy in India’s Assam capital Guwahati by demonstrators who opposed granting citizenship to large numbers of Bangladeshi Hindu migrants. To ease tensions India’s external ministry spokesperson 12 Dec said “minorities are protected” under Bangladesh’s “current govt”. Commander of Bangladesh’s border guard 22 Nov said more than 200 people detained after illegally crossing over the border with India, many claimed they were Bangladeshi migrants who had fled India after more than two decades of residence because of persecution and fears of deportation. FM Momen 25 Dec said only Bangladeshi illegal immigrants returning from India would be taken back after verification; all others would be sent back. Bangladesh 30 Dec shut down mobile networks along border with India citing “security reasons”. Relations with Myanmar remained strained over Rohingya repatriation issues. FM 24 Nov refuted Myanmar’s 15 Nov statement holding Dhaka’s “non-cooperation” responsible for delayed Rohingya repatriation, strongly denied Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in country.

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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.