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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

Deteriorated Situation

Anti-India rallies to protest visit of Indian PM Modi turned deadly, while election-related violence continued. Muslim and student activists held large rallies to protest Indian PM Modi’s 26-27 March visit; at least 50 protesters injured in police action on 25 March in capital Dhaka. During Modi’s visit, police shot dead at least 11 Hefazat-e-Islam protesters in Chittagong city and eastern Brahmanbaria district; four more shot dead as protests continued 28-29 March in Brahmanbaria, Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Ghazipur and Khuna, with Hefazat protesters attacking Hindu temples, govt offices and police stations; around 20,000 protesters charged by 31 March. Earlier in month, Facebook post by Hindu man criticising Hefazat-e-Islam’s Joint Sec Gen Mawlana Mufti Mamunul Haque 17 March prompted group supporters to vandalise more than 80 homes in Sunamganj district (east) as Hindus fled; at least 22 people arrested, while ruling party blamed opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party for attack. Violent clashes between Awami League (AL) factions over municipality elections continued throughout month; clash in Noakhali District (south) 9 March killed one while clash in Bogra district (north) 16 March killed local leader of AL’s student wing; clashes in Bagerhat (south) and Narsingdi (east) districts 18-19 March left dozens injured. UN 1 March called for “independent” investigation into death of journalist imprisoned under controversial Digital Security Act (DSA) in Feb, expressed concern for cartoonist Ahmed Kishore, detained on similar charges since May 2020, and urged govt to review DSA; law minister next day said govt will amend act to prevent misuse and authorities 3 March granted Kishore bail. Anti-militancy operations continued. Counter-terrorism police in Dhaka 4 March arrested three suspected members of banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh and three alleged supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Authorities 23 March sentenced 14 militants to death for attempt to assassinate Sheikh Hasina in 2000. Approximately 4,000 Rohingya refugees 3 March relocated to Bhasan Char, flood-prone island, bringing total number of refugees relocated to island since Dec to over 13,000; UN delegation 17-20 March conducted first safety assessment of island. Massive fire at Cox’s Bazar Balukhali refugee camp 22 March left at least 15 dead, 400 missing and over 45,000 homeless.

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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.