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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

Security forces continued to arrest alleged members of banned militant groups while govt temporarily released imprisoned opposition Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia. In capital Dhaka, counter-terrorism police 19 March arrested alleged second in command of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) women’s branch, on charges of online recruitment; paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 23 March detained three suspected JMB members; and RAB 30 March arrested suspected online financier of Ansar-al Islam (formerly Ansarullah Bangla Team). In Cox’s Bazar, RAB claimed seven Rohingya criminals killed in 2 March gunfight in Teknaf subdistrict; over 50 Rohingya refugees killed in shootouts with authorities in Bangladesh since influx began Aug 2017. Ahead of 17 March centenary celebration of birth of Bangladesh’s founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Islamist groups including Hefazat-e-Islam and Khilafat Andolon late-Feb held demonstrations in Dhaka, condemning killing of Muslims in clashes in India’s capital New Delhi over country’s new citizenship law and demanding PM Hasina cancel invitation to Indian PM Modi to attend celebrations; though govt rejected demands, India’s external affairs ministry 9 March said Modi’s visit was being “deferred” amid spread of COVID-19. Govt 25 March released BNP chief Zia from prison on “humanitarian grounds” for six months on condition she remains at home and does not leave country; hundreds of supporters greeted Zia upon release in Dhaka. Following UN Human Rights Chief Bachelet late-Feb speech at UN Human Rights Council calling for “reform of the Digital Security Act”, authorities continued to use controversial act to attack journalists; police 9 March lodged case under act against Daily Manabzamin newspaper editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury and 31 other journalists.

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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.