Bangladesh

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

Govt and opposition supporters violently clashed, insecurity gripped Myanmar border areas, and targeted attacks continued in Rohingya refugee camps.

Clashes between rival camps fed political tensions. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters held protests at divisional headquarters countrywide against rise in fuel and commodity prices, aimed at culminating in mass protest in capital Dhaka on 10 Dec and galvanising support ahead of general elections late 2023-early 2024. Notably, parallel BNP and ruling Awami League demonstrations in Mymensingh city 15 Oct led to clashes; police filed charges against 300-400 BNP members, who accused police of disrupting demonstrations. Dhaka court 10 Oct sentenced seven BNP leaders and activists to death, and three to life imprisonment, for 2020 murder of leader of ruling party’s volunteer wing. Police 10, 22 Oct arrested dozens of members of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh– proscribed Islamist party – for allegedly plotting against state.

Insecurity along Myanmar border continued, as police targeted militant groups. Security forces mid-Oct launched operation against Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), Myanmar-based separatist group, in two sub-districts of Chittagong Hill Tract’s Bandarband district; home minister 16 Oct accused group of creating unrest in border areas and asserted Bangladeshi militant groups “were stationed next to KNF camp”. Tensions also continued between govt and Myanmar as firing from latter’s side 3 Oct resumed; FM Abdul Momen next day claimed country would not fall prey to Myanmar’s “provocations”. Meanwhile, police arrested scores of suspected members of new militant organisation, Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, in several cities countrywide, including 12 persons 6-10 Oct; 26 Oct arrested 5 in Chittagong Hill Tracts, claiming some 70-80 persons had joined group.

Attacks targeted Rohingya camp-based community leaders and volunteers. In Cox’s Bazar Ukhiya camp, attacks on volunteer’s home 4 Oct killed child and 15 Oct killed two community leaders; two refugees were shot dead 27 Oct. Two Rohingya community leaders were hacked to death 15 Oct. Armed police 28 Oct launched operation in Cox’s Bazar’s camps, arresting 56 Rohingyas, including 24 persons suspected of murdering seven community leaders, attributing most killings to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and “ongoing conflict in Myanmar”.

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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

Shehryar Fazli

Consultant

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