Bangladesh. As in previous years, Bangladesh's political
arena was marked by the fierce power struggle between the
two major parties of the Awami League, which holds the
government with Prime Minister Hasina Wajed at the head, and
the Islamist opposition party Bangladesh's Nationalist Party
(GDP). In January, the Bangladeshi army announced that it
had managed to stave off a coup attempt in which a dozen
Islamist military commanders would have tried to overthrow
Prime Minister Wajed's government. Several of the coup
makers were reported to have been arrested. Some observers,
however, felt that the army's announcement of the failed
coup attempt could very well be a way for the armed forces
to try to demonstrate its importance and influence.
In February, the murders of the two famous TV journalists
Sagar Sarwar and his wife Meherun Runi received much
attention. The couple were killed in their home in the
capital Dhaka by unknown perpetrators. There were suspicions
that the murders had to do with the couple's work as
reporters because no valuables were taken from their home.
Opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia was not late in blaming
the government for the murders.
In March, the International Maritime Law Court (ITLOS)
granted Bangladesh the right to a pair of offshore areas in
the Bay of Bengal, areas that Bangladesh has been in
conflict with neighboring Burma since 2009. In the offshore
areas, there is also plenty of fish and probably some oil
and natural gas.
countryaah, nearly 140 people were killed when a ferry in the same
month sank in the Meghna River following a collision. Such
accidents are very common in the Bangladeshi river systems,
where traffic is intense and safety lousy.
GDP leader Zia announced in April that 18 opposition
parties had joined forces in an alliance. Among the parties
were the conservative Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the
Bangladeshi Jatiya Party (BJP). Later that month, the newly
formed Alliance called on the Bangladeshi to take to the
streets in protest of the disappearance of GDP politician
Mohammed Ilias Ali and his driver. The BNP accused the
government of kidnapping the two men. In the demonstrations
that broke out in Dhaka and Sylhet, dozens of people were
arrested and two were killed in the clashes between
protesters and police. A BNP supporter was reported to have
been shot by the police and at the same time a number of
smaller bombs should have detonated around Dhaka, though no
one was injured. The government led by the Awami League
refused to remove the missing men.
In April, Bangladesh was forced to borrow $ 987 million
from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to strengthen its
foreign exchange reserves. In return, the country promised
to increase tax revenues and reduce government subsidies.
Government-critical demonstrations were also held in May.
Khaleda Zia said she would call for a series of general
strikes unless the government reintroduced the system of an
unpolitical transitional government ahead of upcoming
elections - a system intended to stave off the fierce
contradictions that usually arise in the Bangladeshi
election campaigns between the Awami Federation and GDP, but
which the Wajah government had.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Bangladesh
in May and held meetings with, among others, Prime Minister
Wajed and GDP leader Zia. Clinton praised Grameen Bank
founder Muhammad Yunu's work on microcredit lifting millions
of people out of poverty. The statement was sensitive
because Wajed had removed Yunus from the post of Grameen's
CEO, a decision that is generally seen as politically
motivated following a personal conflict between the two.
Around 300 factories outside Dhaka were temporarily
forced to close in June when half a million textile workers
went on strike for higher wages.
In the state budget that was submitted in June, the
defense received significantly increased funding. During the
summer, a violent conflict between Buddhists and Muslims in
western Burma led tens of thousands - perhaps hundreds of
thousands - of Muslims, especially from the Rohingya
minority group, to flee across the border to eastern
Bangladesh. Hundreds of refugees were rejected directly at
the border by Bangladeshi police as a result of the
authorities trying to reduce the refugee stream. The
authorities ordered three aid organizations to cease their
emergency aid to the refugees because it was considered to
attract more people across the border.
The Minister of Information and Communication Technology,
Syed Abdul Hossain, was forced to resign in July due to
corruption charges in connection with a bridge construction
partially funded by the World Bank. When the credit
institution learned about the corruption suspicions, it had
demanded the resignation of the minister. Corruption is a
widespread and serious problem throughout the Bangladeshi
In late September and October, Buddhist households and
temples in the southeastern district of Cox's Bazar were
attacked by Muslims upset by images on a burnt Koran on
Facebook. Police and army soldiers were called in to curb
the unrest and nearly 170 people were arrested.
In November, over 110 people were killed in a fire in a
textile factory in a suburb of Dhaka. The fire focused
attention on the lack of safety at the country's thousands
of textile factories. In the fire-ravaged factory, among
other things, emergency exits have been missing. Foremen
must also have tried to prevent workers from leaving the
building. A later investigation showed that the fire was on
fire. The incident led to widespread protest actions among
Bangladesh's factory workers.