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Bangladesh: Conflict profile

Bangladesh became an independent country in 1971, following nine months of war that resulted in 300,000-500,000 lives lost.

Since independence, Bangladesh has struggled with political instability. This has included several military coups and periods of martial law.

Democracy was established in 1991. However, Bangladesh's citizens continue to face violence, often resulting from tensions between the two main political parties. One example of this is political interference with the criminal justice system, such as the use of the International Crimes Tribunal to investigate war crimes in the 1971 conflict which some groups have claimed is a way to target political groups.

Corruption and political repression accusations were also heard in the wake of the 2014 elections in which the government Awami League party ran uncontested due to boycotts by other groups.

Abuse of the political and judicial system has boosted the appeal of extremist groups, resulting in violence against secular bloggers, gay rights activists and religious minorities in 2015 and 2016.

A major terror attack took place in July 2016 in Dhaka, killing 21 people . Despite ISIS claiming responsibility, the AL accused its political counter parties of being responsible. This sparked protests followed by government retaliation. In 2017, the UN completed a report condemning the AL government and security forces’ violence.

In addition, an influx of Rohingya Muslims, fleeing persecution in Myanmar, prompted a humanitarian crisis in 2015 that continues today. Rohingya Muslims have been refused refugee status by the Bangladeshi government. Plans to forcibly relocate them to a remote island until the Myanmar accepts their return have been condemned by human rights organisations.

Despite these challenges, Bangladesh has managed to avoid the economic shocks that are thought to increase the risk of conflict, and it has made significant progress against the Millennium Development Goals.

Last updated: October 2017

Bangladesh: peacebuilding resources