Pavel Rahman Bangladesh is now without doubt at a crossroad — all roads ahead are bumpy and the visibility is very low.
It was the culmination of a series of lethal attacks by Islamist radicals against atheist bloggersLBGT-activists, Hindus, Buddhists and foreigners that started in While these attacks captured international media headlinesour data shows that a policy focus on radical Islamism, would fail to recognize the more important interlinkages between democratic party-politics and violence.
Our data suggests that between andover 14, instances of political violence took place in the country, of which only around 16 per cent involved Islamists see table 1.
The scale of political violence is puzzling because up until the elections of —which the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party BNP boycotted—ethnically homogeneous Bangladesh had a fairly stable democratic system. Although relations between and within political parties were tense, the Democracy in bangladesh vote had ensured a turnover of power sinceincluding competitive local elections.
Furthermore, Bangladesh has made solid progressnot only in terms of robust economic growth, having now reached middle income status, but also in terms of human development. What explains this puzzle?
As our research shows, while Bangladesh has been a functioning democracy, many are willing to commit violence to gain access to state patronage, where state resources are used to attract and reward supporters and activists.
Violence plays a key role in brokering this access. These dynamics are particularly visible on public university campuses, one of the most violent arenas.
Second, student leaders of the ruling party use violence to capture territory on campus, often against other factions of the same party.
Student dormitories halls play a particularly important role as they serve as important recruitment grounds and access to state resources. Control over these halls is maintained often against the violent resistance of other factions. Such violent control signals violence capacities and assertiveness and is performed with the expectation to be awarded a position, either within the student organization, or after as an elected representative or in state bureaucracies, most specifically the police.
Democracy in bangladesh positions are considered the gateway to middle class lifestyles. As a result, the operation of everyday and highly factional party-politics in Bangladesh has been one of the main drivers of political violence in the country.
Moreover, criminal mastan activities, such as extortion, land grabbing, smuggling or drug trafficking, have become a major source of income for party leaders. Some commentators have therefore called the political system in Bangladesh a mastanocracy.
Resulting violence goes well beyond political contestation, but is difficult to distinguish, deriving from the patronage-based entanglement of party-politics and crime.
Counterfactually, events of political violence plummeted to its lowest point during a two-year extra-constitutional military-backed caretaker government that assumed power as a reaction to widespread violence and political rioting in the wake of the national elections in During its two-year autocratic tenure, the caretaker government suppressed most party-political activities to restore stability and attempted to crack down on corruption before restoring democratic government and holding elections in December Besides low levels of political violence, there is a widespread perception that in those two years politically backed criminal activities like extortion or land grabbing declined significantly.
This does not mean that an autocratic military regime should be considered as the solution, but rather points towards the role of power struggles and violence within the realm of what we call democracy.
The lethality of the everyday power struggles discussed here is surprisingly high. Our data suggest that overpeople were wounded and over 2, killed between and Election years tend to be excessively violent, with our full data showing clear peaks in violence in, and in the run-up to the January electionswith post-electoral slumps in violence.
As table 1 shows, the two main political parties Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been at the forefront of such political violence, not Islamists as the media often depicts. Involvement of major political organizations in violent events Notwithstanding their prominence in international reporting on Bangladesh, such Islamist groups tend to play a comparatively minor role.
Several proscribed insurgent groups were active, but this did not lead to excessive casualties see table 1. There is little doubt, however, that the situation has deteriorated sincehitherto culminating in the Holey Artisan Bakery attack.
Still, more people died in the local elections 64 than in the combined attacks by Islamist groups against bloggers, Hindus, Buddhists and foreigners in the 3.
With Bangladesh gearing up for general elections at the end ofthe coming months will prove crucial. Violence within democracies with relatively high economic and human development like Bangladesh pose major new challenges to policymakers. Being far removed from the fragile bottom billionthere is a need for the development of novel research and policy perspectives, that reevaluates the still pervasive perception of the so-called middle class as a main driver for the development of stable liberal democracies.
While international drives for the development of more quality employment in Bangladesh are warranted, there is a continued need to identify the underlying causes of violence. Doing so requires policy makers to escape simple explanations that are based on contentious divisions along religious, ethnic or ideological lines and focus more on the mundane, everyday life trajectories of members of violent prone-groups and their patronage networks in order to examine these arguably more complex cases.
While efforts to introduce and promote non-violent forms of contention are appreciated, these cannot tackle the proliferation of internal violence which lies at the heart of democratic rule in Bangladesh.
Considering the complexity of these violent democracies and the relative silence on the side of academia and policy maker with regard to strategies to counter such developments, it is time to implement a new research agenda that attempts to first understand the dynamics of violence in democracies like Bangladesh and second develop recommendations and strategies for policy stakeholder.
Bert Suykens is Assistant Professor at the Dept. Julian Kuttig is a PhD student at the Dept. His fieldwork tries to understand the linkages between violence and a local political order in Rajshahi, Bangladesh.Bangladesh’s economy quadrupled in size between and All this time, Bangladesh was walking on a democratic tightrope, which required careful political maneuvering.
As part of the country’s return to democracy in , the chief justice took the reigns of a caretaker government charged with organizing a free and fair election. Last month, Ripon Chakraborty, a Hindu mathematics teacher in the district of Madaripur, Bangladesh, heard a knock on his door.
As he opened it, three men forced their way in and hacked him with. Democracy is a continuous political process, which can only be sustained and developed by giving due attention to certain issues. Though Bangladesh has passed 34 years of its independence, it has failed to establish democracy as an institution.
First of all I have discussed the . Myanmar, also known as Burma, was long considered a pariah state while under the rule of an oppressive military junta from to The generals who ran the country suppressed almost all.
Governments around the world are dramatically increasing their efforts to manipulate information on social media, threatening the notion of the internet as a liberating technology, according to Freedom on the Net , the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of online freedom. Welcome to the Embassy of Bangladesh, Stockholm - We welcome all visitors to the new interactive user-friendly website of the Embassy of Bangladesh, Stockholm.
Apart from providing visitors with updated information about all aspects of life in Bangladesh, the new site will also offer them the opportunity to make inquiries or suggestions as the case may be.