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Bangladesh: Conflict profile

Bangladesh has struggled with political instability, including several military coups
Bangladesh became an independent country in 1971, following nine months of war. Formerly known as East Pakistan, the violence which accompanied its transition to independence from former West Pakistan saw many people killed and 10 million flee to India.

Since independence, Bangladesh has struggled with political instability, including several military coups and periods of martial law, while also having to rebuild in the wake of frequent and severe cyclones. After 16 years of military rule, democracy was established in 1991, and during the past decade it has made substantial progress economically and with the Millennium Development Goals. However, Bangladesh's citizens continue to face violence from a range of groups as they attempt to deal with corruption, underdevelopment and the legacy of the independence conflict.

Tensions between the two main political parties have regularly threatened to undermine progress, and the threat of the military to state authority has not disappeared. Political violence continues to pose difficulties, based on religious extremism, weak and corrupt governance, a lack of political consensus, uneven access to basic services, and a lack of economic and social opportunities, in particular for women, young people and the urban and rural poor.

Violence between Bengalis, indigenous peoples and other groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region has also been commonplace, although a peace accord was signed in 1997.

Many Rohingya live in Bangladesh, and a humanitarian crisis hit the headlines in 2015 when they attempted to leave across the Andaman Sea, with other Rohingya from Myanmar.

Image credit: BK.

Last updated: November 2015

Bangladesh peacebuilding resources