• Plight of Rohingya Worsens

    The deplorable condition of ethnic minorities in Myanmar has further deteriorated in recent years and Myanmar’s ongoing transition to democracy has been imperiled by ethnic conflict, pervasive religious discrimination, and other recurrent human rights abuses.

    Once a thriving hub for trade and a major agricultural producer, the State of Rakhine in western Myanmar has more recently become better known as a crucible for an ongoing humanitarian, security, and developmental crisis. Violence between majority Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims -- who speak a distinct Bengali dialect and have lived in Rakhine for generations -- has led to an estimated one million Rohingya fleeing west for the comparative safety of Cox’s Bazar, in eastern Bangladesh, the vast majority of whom are women and children. In a campaign of sexual violence, arson, and mass murder waged by the Burmese military, or Tatamadaw, the number of Rohingya killed is currently unknown.

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  • US Army Secretary Ties Inclusivity, National Security Capability

    The promotion of inclusiveness and diversity goes hand in hand with enhancing the United States’ national security capability, US Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning said on June 21.

    “Our national security will suffer if we allow bias or prejudice to close doors and discourage great future leaders from serving,” he said.

    “Building an army that reflects the rich diversity of America will make us stronger and help us build bridges across our country and into every community,” he added.

    Fanning, who was nominated by US President Barack Obama and confirmed by the US Senate earlier this year, is the first openly gay person to serve as the head of a US military organization.

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  • In Bangladesh, Radical Islam on the Rise as 'Battling Begums' Feud

    Faysal Arefin was stabbed to death in his second-floor office in a crowded Dhaka neighborhood on Oct. 31. His crime: Publishing books by Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger and strident opponent of religious extremism.

    Arefin is not the first to meet such a gruesome end. On Feb. 26, machete-wielding men fatally attacked Roy as he was walking with his wife on a street in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

    Arefin and Roy are part of an alarming — and growing — list of victims of radical Islam. At least five secular bloggers have been killed in Bangladesh so far this year. Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a local Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, has drawn up a hit list of secular bloggers, writers, and activists. ABT is believed to have links with Ansar ul-Islam, which is part of al-Qaeda in South Asia.

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  • Is Bangladesh on the Brink?

    A decision by a court in Bangladesh to issue an arrest warrant for Khaleda Zia on February 25 is likely to escalate tensions between the opposition leader’s supporters and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.

    “We don’t know how this will play out or whether it will precipitate a deeper crisis, but one thing is for sure and that is this is a direction in which you do not want things to go,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, Acting Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

    “If you want to defuse the political crisis and get the parties to the table you have to work behind the scenes. Issuing a public arrest warrant certainly doesn’t help,” he added.

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  • Conference: Bangladesh in Focus

    On October 1, the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center hosted a two-panel discussion on Bangladesh. Panelists Amb. William Milam, Senior Scholar, Asia Program, Wilson Center; Amb. Teresita Schaffer, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, The India Project, Brookings Institution; and Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Muniruzzaman, President, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies discussed the new political order in the country following elections in early 2013, and implications to economic progress. The second panel focused on Bangladesh's role in building regional security with comments from Dr. Robert Boggs, Professor, Near East and South Asia Center; Mr. Shafqat Munir, Associate Research Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies; and Dr. Stephen Tankel, Assistant Professor, American University.

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  • Nawaz: Time for Tough Love for Bangladesh?

    South Asia Center Director Shuja Nawaz writes in Nikkei Asian Review on how Western governments can help stabilize Bangladesh:

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