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.
Counter-terrorism raids continued, including raid in Jhenaidah district in SW which ended 8 May with two militants dead, reportedly from faction of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh group (New JMB), which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS). In Rajshahi (north west), fireman hacked to death by suspected New JMB militants during 12 May raid in which five militants, including two women, detonated suicide devices. Police chief 13 May reported 65 militants killed in fifteen recent raids. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) 26 April claimed their Bangladesh chief killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Police 2 May reported arrest of IT chief of Ansarullah Bangla Team, blamed for killings of secular bloggers and activists. Govt 25 April approved plan to establish 560 mosques around country with $1bn Saudi Arabian funding, provoking concerns among secular activists and minorities, who see project as another move to appease Islamist groups ahead of 2019 general elections; in another key concession to Islamist hardliners, govt 26 May removed Lady Justice statue outside Supreme Court, target of large protests by Hefazat-e-Islam coalition. Cleric of minority Ahmadi mosque hacked to death 8 May by several men, one detained by passers-by while trying to escape. Police 20 May raided office of opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia; BNP announced protests but authorities denied permission. BNP denounced instruction issued by foreign ministry 17 May for foreign missions to monitor and report on activities of Bangladeshi journalists abroad. Court 17 May sentenced 23 people including senior BNP figure to death for 2002 killing of four activists of ruling Awami League party.
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