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CrisisWatch Bangladesh

Unchanged Situation

Opposition intellectual and commentator Farhad Mazhar disappeared for eighteen hours 3 July, provoking a strong public reaction, with many holding security agencies responsible. Police, who ostensibly found Mazhar on bus several hundred kilometres outside Dhaka, denied involvement or that Mazhar had been kidnapped at all. Human Rights Watch 6 July published report calling on govt to end enforced disappearances and secret detentions, accusing security agencies of illegally detaining hundreds of people, including some 90 in 2016. Supreme Court 3 July declared sixteenth amendment to constitution, passed in Sept 2014 to give parliament power to impeach Supreme Court judges, illegal, concluding prolonged executive-judiciary clash over judicial independence. Ruling seen as significant defeat for PM Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL) govt. AL parliamentarians, ignoring parliamentary rules prohibiting discussion of judiciary, condemned decision. Police and paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion continued anti-militancy operations, arresting several alleged Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants and seizing arms and ammunitions from Gazipur on outskirts of Dhaka, Rajshahi, and elsewhere. Police 8 July arrested Sohel Mahfuz (aka Hatkata Mizan), leading militant wanted in both Bangladesh and India, allegedly involved in militancy for over a decade and wanted in connection with July 2016 café attack in Dhaka and Oct 2014 Burdwan bombing in India’s West Bengal. Govt-opposition tensions continued, including 6 July suspension of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-backed Gazipur mayor, only eighteen days after he assumed office, over corruption charges (high court later put three-month stay on order); and 9 July indictment of BNP Sec Gen Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir. Dhaka court 27 July issued arrest warrants against 39 BNP leaders and activists, 30 July asked BNP chair Khaleda Zia to appear before court in Sept in eleven cases.

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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

Senior Analyst and Regional Editor, South Asia

Latest Updates

Op-Ed / Asia

Bangladesh government must step back from chaos

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

Report / Asia

Bangladesh: Back to the Future

Bangladesh faces growing political violence in the lead-up to the 2013 elections unless the government takes a more conciliatory approach towards the opposition.

Report / Asia

The Threat from Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh

Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terrorist organisation, remains active and dangerous despite the decimation of its ranks over the last five years.