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 Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) continued campaign to force govt’s resignation ahead of polls, while police abuses against Rohingyas came to light.

Opposition rallied countrywide, leading to clashes with police. BNP held near-daily rallies, sit-ins and protests in capital Dhaka and elsewhere to force PM Sheikh Hasina’s resignation in order to hold elections – set for late Dec or Jan 2024 – under non-partisan caretaker govt. Ruling Awami League, however, rejected demand and ruled out dialogue, continuing its crackdown on opposition. Notably, BNP protested in capital after court 2 Aug sentenced exiled BNP acting leader Tarique Rahman to nine years in prison for corruption, and his wife to three years, making it impossible for her to contest next election. BNP and allies 17 Aug commenced three-day countrywide activities including mass processions; though mostly peaceful, police 19 Aug opened fire with rubber bullets in Habiganj in north east, injuring up to 300 people. Amid police attempts to disrupt Jamaat-e-Islami organisation, senior party officials 4 Aug held rally in Dhaka and 6 Aug organised processions countrywide, telling govt to “dissolve the parliament, resign immediately.” Member of Awami League’s Youth Wing 15 Aug shot dead Jamaat member in Cox’s Bazar. Police and Jamaat members same day clashed in Dhaka. Thousands of opposition supporters 30 Aug protested in Dhaka to demand information about hundreds of people allegedly disappeared under govt’s rule.

Plight of Rohingya continued amid reports of abuse by security forces. NGO Fortify Rights 10 Aug published report alleging Armed Police Battalion “arbitrarily detained and tortured Rohingya refugees while systematically demanding corrupt payments”. Bipartisan U.S. delegation 14 Aug visited Rohingya camps, urging international community to step up aid amid funding shortfall. Thousands of Rohingya 25 Aug rallied in camps demanding safe return to Myanmar to mark sixth anniversary of Myanmar military campaign against them. Insecurity concerns remained acute: according to local police, 85 of 186 murders in camps since 2017 have occurred in past 12 months.

Authorities arrested suspected militants. Police 12 Aug raided “militant hideout” in north-eastern region Moulvibazar, arresting 10 suspects whom authorities claimed were members of new jihadist group, and recovering explosives and jihadist books.

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In The News

10 Nov 2022
You might ask ‘why would the military be interested in negotiating to take them [Rohingya refugees] back when it was the one that forced them to leave for the military re... The New Humanitarian

Thomas Kean

Senior Consultant, Myanmar & Bangladesh
28 Dec 2019
Les autorités [Birmanes] ont donc pris des mesures qui touchent à la liberté de mouvement. Les réfugiés n’ont plus le droit de sortir des camps et les autorités ont coupé... RFI

Pierre Prakash

Program Director, Asia

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