Acute political polarisation in Bangladesh has caused recurrent violent flare-ups, governance breakdowns, and widened social divisions. Furthermore, an increase in jihadist violence is exacerbating Bangladesh’s problems. Years of political deadlock between the two main parties, the Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have facilitated the rise of extremist groups, the narrowing of political debate, and the erosion of the rule of law. Crisis Group aims to reduce conflict risks arising from political stagnation. We work to improve the conditions for inclusive, accountable, and democratic political institutions in order to reduce the spread of militancy and radicalisation.
Political repression is reaching new highs in Bangladesh. The government’s abuse of rule of law institutions for political ends has created an atmosphere of injustice that is increasingly exploited by anti-state extremist groups. The gruesome recent killing of a secular blogger is just another tragic result of these groups' growing power and impunity.
As Rohingya refugees continued to cross into Bangladesh from Myanmar (see Myanmar), EU High Representative Federica Mogherini 12 Dec said repatriation deal agreed by govt and Myanmar 23 Nov is “first step” in right direction but must be “monitored extremely carefully” by international community. Concerns continued that practical details of deal, including verification process, make refugees’ return difficult; during visit to Dhaka by Myanmar delegation, Bangladesh and Myanmar 19 Dec formed joint working group on repatriation to start return of Rohingya refugees late Jan. Amid renewed public discussion about enforced disappearances, including alleged role of Bangladeshi govt, ex-ambassador to Vietnam under former BNP administration Maroof Zaman went missing in Dhaka 4 Dec and remains traceless. Counter-terrorism officials 14 Dec said they had arrested Abdus Samad, cofounder of Islamic State (ISIS)-linked “neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh”, accused of orchestrating July 2016 café attack in Dhaka. High court 27 Nov confirmed death penalty for 139 of 152 convicted in Feb 2009 paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles mutiny case.
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.
Violence continues to plague the aftermath of Bangladesh’s deeply contested January 2014 elections. The country’s two main post-independence parties must turn back from a political dead end that is doing long-term damage to them both, negotiate a return to democratic rules and work towards a new all-party cabinet to oversee new elections.
Bangladesh faces growing political violence in the lead-up to the 2013 elections unless the government takes a more conciliatory approach towards the opposition.
Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terrorist organisation, remains active and dangerous despite the decimation of its ranks over the last five years.
After decades of misuse and neglect, Bangladesh’s police are a source of instability and fear rather than a key component of a democratic society.
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.
Originally published in Nikkei Asian Review
Originally published in World Politics Review
The brutal murder of a law student blogger who had criticized Islamist groups in Bangladesh has underlined the growing power and impunity of the country's extremist rump. The death of Nazumuddin Samad, 28, who was hacked and shot to death on April 7, has also highlighted how the rise of religious extremism is affecting the country's image and its efforts to advance economically.
Originally published in The Nikkei Asian Review