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

Conflict in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state continued to drive unrest in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps as civilians caught in crossfire fled, searching for refuge.

Rohingyas sought to leave Myanmar as fighting in Northern Rakhine intensified. Arakan Army 16 June warned “all residents to evacuate” Maungdaw, predominantly Rohingya town in Rakhine state. With thousands of civilians believed to be caught in violence, Bangladesh’s commissioner for refugees 22 June said “…our stand is that not a single more Rohingya will enter our land”; at UN Human Rights Council Bangladesh 18 June reiterated Rohingya repatriation was “only durable solution” to forced displacement. Despite govt pledges, rising number of Rohingyas continued to find ways across, either by boat or land. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan 20 June warned Myanmar and AA against cross-fire, threatening retaliation if cross-border shooting persisted. Myanmar 12 June had moved two military ships into Naf River close to Bangladesh territory; Bangladesh 6-14 June suspended vessel movement between Teknaf and St Martin’s Island due to fighting. 

Situation in Rohingya refugee camps remained tense but armed group recruitment slowed. Three Rohingya refugees 10 June died after clashes between Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA); Rapid Action Battalion 10-13 June arrested six ARSA members including two commanders. RSO forced recruitment in the camps declined significantly from late May, likely due to international pressure on govt and pushback from refugees. Bangladesh 9 June repatriated 134 Myanmar security forces as Myanmar repatriated 45 Bangladeshis. 

Opposition announced major reshuffle, final voting of district chairs completed. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) 15 June reorganised 39 executive positions and dissolved multiple city committees, widely seen as unilateral move by chairman Tarique Rahman to consolidate power within party. Election Commission 5 June completed final round voting to elect district chairs; low voter turnout of just 34% was attributed to BNP boycott; despite ruling Awami League’s directive, 77% of winning chairs were relatives or associates of sitting AL lawmakers. 

In other important developments. PM Hasina 21-22 June visited India calling it “short but very fruitful”. Police 12 June recovered body of alleged Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) member killed in combat. 

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In The News

7 jan 2024
There is a risk of increased violence after the polls [in Bangladesh]. The New York Times

Pierre Prakash

Program Director, Asia
5 jan 2024
The election will not resolve Bangladesh’s political crisis … Since the 2008 election … the country has not held a credible national election. The Guardian

Pierre Prakash

Program Director, Asia
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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