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.
With political polarisation reaching historic highs and local jihadist groups forging links with transnational movements, new forms of militancy threaten security and religious tolerance in Bangladesh. The government should reinforce the capability of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, and build political consensus on tackling the menace.
Opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) continued its agitation campaign over Feb conviction of its leader Khaleda Zia for corruption. BNP early March held demonstrations demanding her release in all divisional headquarters, including Dhaka; police 6 March arrested several BNP activists including BNP student wing leader Jakir Hossain Milon, who died in custody 12 March. BNP leaders and Milon’s family 18 March staged protests against his death, claiming he had been tortured. High court 12 March granted Zia four months’ bail in orphanage trust case, though she was not released from custody due to separate ongoing case into Feb 2015 alleged arson attack. In response to petitions from govt and Anti-Corruption Commission, Supreme Court stayed bail order 14 and 19 March; Dhaka prison authorities 28 March failed to produce Zia before Comilla court hearing on arson case. Hundreds of Rohingya refugees 28 Feb fled makeshift camp in “no man’s land” area along border with Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar soldiers allegedly threatened them through megaphones; more refugees entered from Myanmar 1 March after Myanmar reportedly deployed troops at Tombru border crossing, prompting protest from Bangladeshi govt. Islamist student Foyzur Rahman 3 March stabbed academic Muhammad Zafar Iqbal at Sylhet district university in alleged assassination attempt; police reportedly found evidence linking Rahman to Ansarul Islam group, responsible for spate of murders of secular bloggers in 2015.
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.
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.
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.
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