chapter  2
19 Pages

Political violence in Bangladesh


In recent years, Bangladesh has been portrayed by the international media as a hotbed of political and religious violence. 1 The country-wide bomb blasts orchestrated by extremist Islamist groups in August 2005, 2 the killings of internationally known figures like SAMS Kibria, 3 elected representatives 4 and journalists, 5 and continued attacks on members of minority religious groups 6 have lent credence to this allegation. According to the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights, about 1,100 persons, including leaders and activists of different political parties, were killed in 997 incidents of organized violence by political parties between October 2001 and February 2005. 7 On 21 August 2004, a multiple grenade attack killed 22 people including one of the most senior members of the Awami League – Ivy Rahman – and injured hundreds during a public meeting in Dhaka. Many observers have asserted that violence has become an important part of the Bangladeshi political landscape. Rising violence, or the perception of rising violence, poses a serious threat to nascent democracy in Bangladesh, and calls for a probing investigation into the causes of and conditions for political violence.