Violence in Bangladesh

Violence in Bangladesh

Protracted internal violence in Bangladesh surrounding the general elections


The risk of further violence and political instability in Bangladesh remains high following the January parliamentary election. In response to the ruling Awami League’s refusal to allow a nonpartisan caretaker administration to oversee voting, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted the election, leaving 153 of 300 seats uncontested.

Amidst political violence that killed over one hundred people ahead of the election, voter turnout reached just 40 percent according to the Bangladesh Election Commission—compared to 87 percent in 2008. Controversy surrounding a recently concluded tribunal that sentenced a leader of Jama’at-e-Islami, a banned Islamist party and BNP ally, to death for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence has further deepened the country’s political divisions.

Without credible elections, Bangladesh may experience protracted internal violence and significant stress on its economy. An embattled Bangladesh is a serious concern for India, which fears that Bangladesh could be used as a staging ground to launch terrorist attacks across the border. Rising political violence in Bangladesh could undermine U.S. efforts to counter terrorist activities and discourage economic development in South Asia by intensifying religious extremism and regional insecurity. 

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  • Alyssa Ayres

    Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia