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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

Amid ongoing govt crackdown on critics, security operations continued against alleged members of banned militant groups. Govt continued to supress critics, particularly journalists; ruling-Awami League (AL) member 6 Sept filed defamation cases against four reporters, including newspaper editor over articles deemed critical of AL minister; NGO Reporters without Borders 7 Sept called on govt to dismiss charges against Cox’s Bazar journalist who, despite being released in Aug after almost one year in prison where he reportedly suffered police torture, still faces several charges, including illegal possession of drugs and arms. Meanwhile, anti-militancy operations continued: in capital Dhaka, paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 9 Sept arrested four suspected members of Ansar al-Islam and police next day arrested four alleged Neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh members; RAB 16 Sept arrested two suspected Ansar al-Islam accused of recruitment through social media and police 18 Sept  arrested another suspect; RAB 17 Sept arrested two alleged Allahr Dal members in Gaibandha district and two suspected Allahr Dal members in Rajshahi district on 23 Sept. RAB 29 Sept arrested alleged Ansar al-Islam member in Ashulia area near Dhaka. Govt 4 Sept extended by six months suspension on “humanitarian grounds” of prison sentence for Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia, convicted on corruption charges. Govt 4 Sept organised visit for 40 Rohingya community leaders to Bhasan Char island to observe existing facilities, as part of plans to relocate refugees to flood-prone island post-monsoon; 8 Sept said security forces would construct barbed wire fences around Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district and increase electronic surveillance due to alleged money laundering and drug trafficking among refugees with international and NGO involvement. FM Momen 12 Sept called for international support to facilitate refugee repatriation to Myanmar, warning of “pockets of radicalisation” if situation remains unchanged. Bangladesh UN mission 15 Sept shared “aide-mémoire” with UN Secretary General on movement of Myanmar military close to Bangladesh border, seeking immediate UN Security Council steps to prevent escalation of situation.

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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.