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孟加拉国的政治冲突、极端主义和刑事司法
孟加拉国的政治冲突、极端主义和刑事司法
Myanmar/Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Calamity and a Two-country Crisis
Myanmar/Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Calamity and a Two-country Crisis
Protesters march in Dhaka during a general strike, held in response to the recent murder of Faysal Arefin, a publisher of books by critics of religious militancy in Bangladesh, 3 November 2015. REUTERS/Ashikur Rahman
Report 277 / Asia

孟加拉国的政治冲突、极端主义和刑事司法

政治镇压在孟加拉国进一步升温,政府为了政治目的滥用法治,而其所营造的不公正气氛则让反政府极端组织有机可乘。近日,某世俗派博主惨遭极端组织的毒手,而该惨案正是这些组织实力壮大且肆无忌惮的恶果。

执行摘要

随着人民联盟(AL)控制下的政府与孟加拉国民族主义党(BNP)的政治对抗不断升级,政府的压迫手段也再创新高。与此同时,一个高度政治化、运转不周的司法体系正在削弱而非加强法治。高压政策使政府的合法性受到质疑,同时,政府的强硬手段还适得其反地引发暴力反抗,并令暴力党派和极端组织坐收渔利。政府需要认识到改变现状符合其自身利益,否则它抑制暴力极端主义、或应对政治上的威胁。更关键的则是要去政治化,并加强刑法体系在各方面的建设,司法机构也不例外;如此为,孟加拉国才能应对其国内众多的法制挑战,并避免民主制度崩塌。

人民联盟和孟加拉国民族主义党之间的政治冲突已导致了众多暴力事件和政府的残酷镇压。为打压反对派和批判者,政府采取了强迫失踪、严刑逼供和法外处决等过激手段。不仅警察被授意针对政敌,司法机构沦为迫害反对派领袖和社运分子的工具,暴力极端分子也对他们发起了新一轮的威胁。然而,目前的法律环境却为极端团体创造了重组的机会,这则体现在对世俗派博主和外国人的谋害、以及2015年对宗派和宗教少数派的袭击上。为应对不断上升的极端主义势力,政府对部分嫌疑人实行了抓捕和审讯,但因其流程不正规且缺乏透明度,这进而加剧了政治疏离感,且让极端组织有了更多的可乘之机。

若要与反对派和解并恢复社会稳定,政府需做出政治妥协,不再利用执法部门镇压异己、并停止滥用法庭。政府为了禁言政治异见,而利用警察和特别部队——尤其是快速行动营(RAB)——打压的行为正在为将来的暴力反抗埋下伏笔。因为要集中打压反对派,警方无暇遏制犯罪行为;对反对派领袖和社运人士的大规模抓捕使得监狱系统不堪重负;司法机关的信誉亦是——因其被认为在审判和量刑上效忠于党派的政治利益——每况愈下。如此一来,司法系统便在两个极端间摇摆不定——即,办理普通案件时效率极其低下,且运作不周;而在处理政治指控时,其则断案神速,并略过了正当的诉讼程序。

除非能剔除司法中的政治影响,任何——单靠增加培训,加强警力装备,和实现公安、公诉和司法部门现代化的——改革努力都难以解决司法系统失调的问题。数年来分帮结派式的招募、升迁和委任导致体制内分化严重,以至于官员都不再掩饰各自的派系忠诚。投诉如何定性和上报、而上报案件的轻重缓急由如何划分;这些都取决于司法官员的党派偏见,他们甚至还会提前透露判决结果。

孟加拉国的法治问题并不止步于此,其还诉诸司法手段来禁言公民社会、阻碍媒体监督,并在处理政治案件时,以不公平程序取代正当程序。法制机构若沦为服务政治的工具,其将百害无利,而漏洞百出的国际犯罪法庭(ICT)则着重印证了这一点。该法庭成立于2010年,其本是为了起诉那些在1971年解放战争中犯下暴行的战犯而设,然而其缺乏公正的形象令极端势力有机可乘,并对政治冲突火上浇油。

为纪念具争议的2014年大选,孟加拉国民族主义党及其盟友伊斯兰大会党(Jamaat-e-Islami)组织了大规模的盲目暴力袭击和交通封锁,而政府亦是以暴制暴。如今,孟加拉国民族主义党似乎已不太愿意诉诸于武力政变了,并决定回归主流政治,而政府应抓住机会,尽快恢复和反对党对话。为表诚意并作出表率,政府应率先停止用司法手段攻击对手和异见者。接受合法的政治参与及批判渠道亦有助于政府收复部分合法性,并重拾公民对国家司法和安全的信任。只要一日没有司法独立和裁决公正,那各利益攸关方就可能会将争端诉诸于街头,然而一个中立——即,能坚守基本原则、防止行政过度干涉——的司法提携则将有助于缓和紧张局势。国际社会亦能促进孟加拉国的政治和解。美国和欧盟可以利用经济筹码向达卡当局施压,以此要求政府尊重公民权和政治权。印度则可以借助它与孟加拉国的密切联系,并敦促人民联盟向反对党开放合法的政治表达和参与通道。事不宜迟,如果政府继续封锁表达异见的主流渠道,那将会有更多的反对派将暴力和加入暴力组织视为其唯一的出路。

布鲁塞尔,2016年4月11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.