Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Twitter Video Camera Youtube
Myanmar/Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Calamity and a Two-country Crisis
Myanmar/Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Calamity and a Two-country Crisis
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activists shout slogans during a rally in Dhaka on 20 January 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
Report 264 / Asia

解读孟加拉国的政治危机

自2014年1月竞争激烈的选举后,孟加拉国便被暴力事件缠身。该国独立后成立的两个主要政党必须走出政治死胡同,通过谈判回归民主制度,共同建立一个新的全党派内阁、并以此监督新的选举;否则,政治僵局将对两党造成长期的危害。

执行摘要

时隔孟加拉国史上竞争最激烈、暴力事件最频繁的选举一周年之际,政府和反对派之间的冲突于1月5日导致了数人死伤。此次交火标志着执政党人民联盟(AL)与孟加拉国民族主义党(BNP)反对派之间的僵局进入了新阶段,而自孟加拉国独立以来,这两党便一直交替掌控政权。民族主义党自2014年抵制选举结果后,似是已决心要诉诸街头势力来推翻政府。鉴于暴力事件日日频发、已犹如昔日选举前夕的紧张态势,该国的政治危机正在接近其一触即发的临界点。若各方再不采取紧急措施并减轻矛盾,那孟加拉国势必会陷入动乱。此外,孟加拉国还为审判建国时的罪行而设立了特别法庭;然而,此举非但难以达成和解,还将造成分裂。改变策略才是两全其美之法:一方面,通过反思彼时处境,人民联盟政府应尊重反对党提出异议的民主权利;另一方面,民族主义党应通过与执政党协商来挽回政治地位,而非诉诸于街头暴力。

孟加拉国应建立新的政治契约,即要依法治国、并尊重执政党和反对党的法制权力。然而,由于两个最大的主流政党不愿合作共建新政体,制度的缺陷则让极端势力和不法分子有了可乘之机。宣扬暴力的伊斯兰派系已经死灰复燃,并威胁着世俗民主秩序。尽管圣战组织将两党均视为建立伊斯兰教律政权的主要障碍,但是人民联盟和孟加拉国民族主义党仍把对方看作主要对手。

人民联盟及其领导人谢赫•哈西娜•瓦吉德总理强调道,由于前总理哈立德•齐亚及其党派缺席国会,孟加拉民族主义党因此失去了政治地位。然而,因忧虑其会东山再起,政府试图强行中和反对派、扼杀异见;如以贪污和其他刑事案件为名起诉——包括齐亚和她的儿子及接班人,塔利克•拉赫曼在内的——在野党领导人,采取警察和准军事部队等高压手段,以及颁布会损害基本宪法权利的法律和政策。

2014年的选举暴力事件令数百人丧生,以及数百户印度教徒的房屋和商店因此受损;然而,孟加拉民族主义党至今尚未就此承担责任,且还再次试图通过与恶迹昭著的伊斯兰大会党(Jamaat-e-Islami)结盟来武力推翻政府。尽管其被指在当时犯下了种种极恶行为,但孟加拉民族主义党仍保持为其核心支持者,并还成功动员了街头示威。但它唯一要求——即,在中立方的监督下重新选举——过于狭隘,不仅其获得的群众支持难以弥补脱离议会带来的不利,且其政治资本还因暴力行径再现而剧减。目前在南旁遮普武装组织的持续镇压中,其仍显露出了明显地厚此薄彼的做法,这也削弱了其更广泛的反恐目标。一方面反印度的圣战组织继续恣意妄为,而另一方面,准军事部队滥用武力打击本地犯罪组织,而旁遮普政府则诉诸于法外处决的手段来铲除圣战领导层和卒兵。过度依赖于武力打击的反恐政策或会有短期效果,但长期而言则会适得其反,因为该政策破坏了法制并助长了政治疏离情绪。

孟加拉国各党及其领导人之间深切的敌意和猜忌并非不可避免。他们虽室内操戈,但双方曾齐力终止了直接或间接的军事统治,并携手巩固了民主制度。最近一次合作是在2007至2008年——由军方支持的临时政府(CTG)的执政期间,其高层指挥部试图将谢赫·哈西娜和哈立德·齐亚赶出政坛;但两党领导人却未能乘胜展开合作,反倒诉诸不民主手段来互相伤害。在权力上,两者都推行中央集权,并利用政治化司法机关和掠夺性执法机构来打压合法的政治异见。

当下的危机主要是孟加拉国各方未能就多党民主运作的基本标准达成一致。一方面,孟加拉国民族主义党声称自己是民族主义的守护者,另一面,人民联盟则试图将自己描述为孟加拉国解放的唯一贡献者和监护人。如此局势下,该国亦需要重新评估国际犯罪法庭(ICT)——其由人民联盟于2010年3月成立的,并旨在起诉于1971年解放战争期间所犯下暴行的个人。尽管追究肇事者理所当然,但该法庭不仅仅且不至于法律工具,其还被广泛认为是——用于对付反政府伊斯兰派的——政治工具。简而言之,执政党被认为是在以建国时之不幸来牟取私利。

人民联盟需意识到,如将孟加拉国民族主义党排除在主流政治外,尤其是在其自身日益趋向专制化之下,这可能会促使反政府主义分子寻求更激进的渠道。同理,为了孟加拉国民族主义党之益,其应放弃与暴力伊斯兰组织的便利联盟,并争取恢复协议——为多党民主运作基本标准达成一致。一场旷日持久的政治危机将使谢赫•哈西娜和哈立德•齐亚成为最终的输家,因为法律与秩序的重大崩溃只会予以军方干预的借口。尽管目前还没有这个迹象,但历史表明这个可能的后果不容忽视。随着政治战线愈加深入,政治和解的机会正在迅速减少。双方应克制党派积极分子的暴力活动,并为降低政局紧张而采取实际措施,如下:

执政党应保证不再压制异见人士、遏制且追究执法机构的滥权行为、解除扼杀公民自由的措施、并坚决保护少数民族,令其财产和事业不受攻击和剥夺;

人民联盟应邀请孟加拉民族主义党的代表——哪怕是从低级官员开始——重回谈判,试图恢复包括选举改革在内的民主制度。其还应在达卡举行市长选举,并将这项久违的宪法条例作为展开对话的契机;

孟加拉国民族主义党须致力成为非暴力的反对政党。其应放弃与伊斯兰大会党结盟,因为除了会增强伊斯兰反对派的街头势力,该联盟对它毫无政治利益可言。此外,它还应向人民联盟表示诚意,为终结危机而展开实质性谈判,令孟加拉国经济增长免遭破坏、使其政治秩序不受威胁。

伊斯兰堡/布鲁塞尔,2015年2月9日

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.

This commentary on Myanmar and Bangladesh's humanitarian calamity and two-country crisis is part of our annual early-warning report Watch List 2018.

Violent operations by the military, border police and vigilante groups in Myanmar have forced some 750,000 Rohingya to flee northern Rakhine for Bangladesh over the last twelve months. These numbers represent more than 85 per cent of the Rohingya population in the three affected townships. Significant bilateral and multilateral criticism – in the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council – has failed to temper the approach of the Myanmar government and military. The UN, as well as the U.S. and other governments, have declared the 2017 campaign against the Rohingya “ethnic cleansing” and likely crimes against humanity; some have raised the possibility that it may constitute genocide.

Several hundred Rohingya continue to flee each week. For the more than 100,000 who remain, as well as the non-Rohingya population, life is extremely difficult. Security fears, curfews and checkpoints severely restrict civilian movement, particularly for the Rohingya, making it very difficult to reach farms, fishing grounds and markets. The International Committee of the Red Cross is exerting enormous efforts to deliver aid to those in need, but the government has denied access to most other agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, human rights bodies and media outlets. Myanmar also refused to allow a UN-appointed international fact-finding mission to visit the region and subsequently announced it would no longer grant visas or cooperate with the special rapporteur on human rights. Two Reuters journalists were arrested in Yangon on 12 December after gathering evidence of military abuse, including information about a mass grave; they are being held incommunicado and face charges under the Official Secrets Act.

Continuing violence in northern Rakhine also undermines prospects for a solution to the crisis. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group (whose 25 August 2017 attacks triggered the crisis) claimed responsibility for a 5 January ambush on a military vehicle that injured five soldiers – the first known attack by the group since the end of its unilateral ceasefire in October. While ARSA’s ability to sustain an insurgency remains uncertain, even occasional minor attacks have a major political impact, amplifying security concerns and sharpening anti-Rohingya sentiment.

Prospects for repatriation

Many refugees are still deeply traumatised and remain fearful for their physical safety should they return.

Many observers have expressed concern that the November 2017 signing of a repatriation “arrangement” between Myanmar and Bangladesh, with a two-month timeframe for repatriations to start, could lead to the premature and unsafe return of Rohingya to northern Rakhine. For now, however, that appears unlikely, given that the process has stalled. Though Myanmar has declared its readiness to commence processing returnees through two new reception centres as of 23 January, it has yet to initiate much of the detailed logistical and policy planning required for a successful operation on this scale; for its part, Bangladesh announced on 22 January that it was postponing the start of repatriations.

Many of the 750,000 Rohingya who fled northern Rakhine over the past year would return under the right circumstances: Myanmar is their home, where most have lived for generations, and they see no future for themselves and their children in the Bangladesh camps. But there is unlikely to be any voluntary repatriation in the near term. Many refugees are still deeply traumatised and remain fearful for their physical safety should they return. The paramilitary Border Guard Police, which operates only in northern Rakhine, and Rakhine vigilante groups remain unchecked; Rohingya blame both for brutalities. Curfew orders and other onerous restrictions on freedom of movement remain in place, making it impossible to sustain livelihoods. The prevailing political environment also gives the Rohingya little hope for a positive future in Myanmar. The authorities deny most reports of abuses and have made little effort to address fundamental issues of desegregation, rights and citizenship.

Bangladesh’s government is wary of openly espousing the Rohingya’s cause for fear of stirring tensions with Myanmar and losing the support of its main backer, India, and main trading partner, China, both supportive of Myanmar. It wants the refugees to return as quickly as possible. But at the same time, Dhaka is reluctant to force refugees to return given domestic political dynamics ahead of the 2018 general elections and the glare of the global media and political spotlight. The upshot is that hundreds of thousands of traumatised, hopeless Rohingya will remain confined to the Bangladesh camps for the foreseeable future, requiring a huge humanitarian operation. Most Rohingya have not been involved in violence and there is little evidence of jihadist influence in their communities. Nevertheless, their trying circumstances could create risky new dynamics for Bangladesh and the region.

Situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is facing the consequences of the fastest refugee movement across an international border since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. More than one million Muslim Rohingya – a figure that includes refugees from previous exoduses – now live in camps near Cox’s Bazar in the south-eastern corner of the country, close to the border with Myanmar. The area is among the country’s poorest. Since the influx of the Rohingya refugees, local wages have fallen while prices have climbed. Discontent among local residents – now in the minority – is rising. Camp conditions, though improving, are still desperate: it is a major challenge to procure water and fuel without depriving other residents, and the threat of disease looms. Addressing the emergency will cost around $1 billion annually – 0.5 per cent of Bangladesh’s GDP – and donors are paying most of the aid bill.

While relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar are tense, there appears to be little risk of direct conflict between the two countries’ armies. Likewise, in the view of Bangladeshi security forces, the possibility of the displaced Rohingya being recruited or used by Bangladeshi or transnational jihadist groups is low. Perhaps more dangerous, ahead of national elections to be held near the end of 2018, is that the presence of a large refugee population could ignite the simmering communal conflict among Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus as well as ethnic minorities, especially in the highly militarised Chittagong Hill Tracts. It also is worth noting that these refugees – whose presence Bangladeshi politicians privately suggest could well be permanent – are located in a part of the country where the influence of Hefazat-e-Islam (Protectors of Islam), a hardline coalition of government-allied Islamist organisations, is strongest. The Hefazat was first to respond to the refugee crisis. It has since threatened to launch a jihad against Myanmar unless it stops persecuting the Rohingya. Hefazat has in recent years gained significant influence over the nominally secular Awami League, the ruling party, and now holds effective veto power over the government’s social and religious policies.

Perhaps more dangerous, ahead of national elections to be held near the end of 2018, is that the presence of a large refugee population could ignite the simmering communal conflict among Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus as well as ethnic minorities.

The gravest security risks, though, are associated with the possibility of bungled repatriation. While no repatriation appears likely any time soon, the return of the Rohingya under the wrong conditions – notably in the absence of rights for Rohingya returning to Myanmar – would jeopardise the lives of refugees and prolong the crisis. The further suffering of the Rohingya in Myanmar itself could lead foreign jihadist fighters, notably from South Asia, to adopt the Rohingya’s cause; Bangladesh itself might even lend support to a cross-border insurgency. One way to guard against this outcome is to ensure UNHCR involvement in any repatriation process, a demand many Rohingya living in camps have themselves made. But while Dhaka is not opposed to UN involvement, it continues to seek a bilateral arrangement with Myanmar knowing the Myanmar government is more likely to accept repatriation without what it would consider intrusive international oversight. Moreover, Bangladesh has traditionally refused to grant stateless Rohingya refugees rights; in fact, the government refuses to call them refugees and threatens to move some to a flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal. Outside powers, including the EU and its member states, should not underestimate Dhaka’s willingness to return the refugees if an opportunity presented itself in the future – even under conditions that are far from ideal.

Bangladesh’s current short-term policies risk producing slum-like conditions in the camps, which would amount to their protracted, donor-funded confinement. The Rohingya are barred from work and their children from state-run schools, forcing many to work illegally and leaving poorly regulated religious schools as their only option. The government’s approach is rooted in the belief that state support in Bangladesh for the Rohingya risks attracting more refugees. With the population now mainly in Bangladesh, this logic no longer holds; the government should take steps to allow the Rohingya to better integrate including by working and attending regular schools.

Straddling two countries and competing preoccupations

The challenge for Bangladesh and its international partners is to craft a long-term humanitarian response to provide for the refugees, while maintaining diplomatic engagement and other forms of pressure on the Myanmar authorities to create favourable conditions for their eventual voluntary, safe and dignified return. At the same time, they should start laying the groundwork for steps toward more politically sensitive policies, notably integration in Bangladesh or resettlement elsewhere, in the most likely scenario that voluntary repatriation proves impossible. For now, Dhaka and many Western diplomats resist such discussion, not wanting to ease pressure on Myanmar; Delhi, too, rejects it, fearing that the Rohingya may end up in India. But given the slim prospects of the Rohingya’s return, preparing for their potential integration in Bangladesh – a process which already is informally underway – and the possibility of resettlement elsewhere would make sense.

Regional actors have critical roles to play. China and India in particular are among Myanmar’s and Bangladesh’s closest international partners; neither power wishes to see a festering two-country border conflict in the Bay of Bengal. The EU and its member states should engage Beijing and New Delhi to forge a common approach to encourage Myanmar to commit to a pathway to citizenship for most Rohingya, in keeping with the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State headed by Kofi Annan.

The EU and its members also should impress on Dhaka that botched repatriations would present the greatest security risk, even while acknowledging the enormous burden Bangladesh is shouldering. They should work closely with the government, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations to determine how best to coordinate the enormous task of providing services and relief to the Rohingya in the camps. These decisions should be made in consultation with the Rohingya themselves – including women, whose voices are even more rarely heard, in part due to cultural barriers. The EU pledged an additional €30 million at an October UN conference, but funding remains insufficient given the magnitude of what inevitably will be a prolonged crisis. Simultaneously, the EU and its member states should use their diplomatic leverage to pressure Bangladesh and Myanmar not to implement their repatriation agreement without adequate international oversight. Finally, they should continue to push for accountability, including supporting efforts to gather the detailed evidence necessary to identify those responsible for violence against the Rohingya and their forced expulsion.