Manufacturing a Climate of Fear

  • Ali RiazEmail author
Part of the Politics of South Asia book series (POSAS)


Beginning mid-2015, Bangladesh experienced a dramatic decline in the space for dissent, and freedom of expression and assembly became highly restricted. The main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was pushed to the corner after its mass movement failed and was weakened as its leaders faced frivolous criminal changes. The overall social and political climate became more restrictive. Various methods, such as extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, were employed to create a climate of fear among the citizens. Media was muzzled through co-optation and unwritten censorship. Existing draconian laws were used and new restrictive laws were introduced to curb online activities. Two non-partisan grassroots movements were quelled through heavy-handed measures. This chapter describes the overall fearful situation before the election cycle began.


Fear Media Enforced disappearance Extrajudicial killing Digital Security Act 


  1. Abrar, C. R. 2017. Silencing Dissent. December 08. Accessed January 16, 2019.
  2. Anam, Mahfuz. 2018. Commentary: Why this merciless beating? July 04. Accessed December 23, 2018.
  3. 2017. Enforced disappearance situation more grim in US than Bangladesh, says Hasina. November 24. Accessed January 26, 2019.
  4. Democracy International, DI. 2018a. Democratic Participation and Reform (DPR), Bangladesh. October. Accessed December 3, 2018.
  5. Democracy International, DI. 2018b. SPL Survey: Politics and Governance in Bangladesh. Survey Report, Washington: Democracy International.Google Scholar
  6. Ekman, Joakim. 2009. “Political Participation and Regime Stability: A Framework for Analyzing Hybrid Regimes.” International Political Science Review 30 (1): 7–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Galhotra, Sumit. 2016. 79 cases and counting: Legal challenges pile up for Daily Star editor who admitted error in judgment. February 23. Accessed January 26, 2019.
  8. Hasan, Kamrul. 2018. Ain o Salish Kendra: Extrajudicial killings highest in six years. November 21. Accessed January 23, 2019.
  9. Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2018. No Place for Criticism: Bangladesh Crackdown on Social Media Commentary. May 09. Accessed February 22, 2019.
  10. International Republican Institute, IRI. 2018. National Survey of Bangladeshi Public Opinion. Survey Report, Washington: International Republican Institute. Accessed 2018.Google Scholar
  11. Kasem, Abul. 2017. People are living in fear of disappearances. December 10. Accessed December 27, 2018.
  12. Meixler, Eli. 2018. Bangladeshi Photographer Shahidul Alam Has Been Released From Detention. November 21. Accessed January 17, 2019.
  13. Molin, Anna. 2018. Twitter, Facebook Remove Accounts in Bangladesh for Manipulation. December 20. Accessed February 22, 2019.
  14. NDTV. 2018. Bangladesh Professor Arrested For Facebook Comments on PM Sheikh Hasina. September 26. Accessed February 22, 2019.
  15. Odhikar. 2019. Total Extra-judicial killings from 2001–2008. January. Accessed March 3, 2019.
  16. Olivier, Laurent. 2018. Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam arrested over ‘provocative comments’. August 06. Accessed February 22, 2019.
  17. Paul, Ruma, Serajul Quadir, and Zeba Siddiqui. 2018. In fear of the state: Bangladeshi journalists self-censor as election approaches. December 12. Accessed January 5, 2019.
  18. Rahman, Yashab. 2019. Silence and self-censorship persist in Bangladesh after December 30 polls. January 07. Accessed February 22, 2019.
  19. Rashid, Muktadir. 2019. 63 people held since October. January 15. Accessed March 3, 2019.
  20. The Asia Foundation, AF. 2016. Bangladesh’s Democracy According to the People: A Survey of the Bangladeshi People. Survey Report, Dhaka: Asia Foundation.
  21. The Daily Star. 2017. Don’t file cases without nod from centre. August 11. Accessed December 22, 2018.
  22. The Financial Express. 2017. Difficult to find people willingly disappear: Kamal. November 09. Accessed January 29, 2019.
  23. 2018. Bangladesh Police arrest social media activists over protest ‘rumours’. August 09. Accessed February 22, 2019.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politics and GovernmentIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA

Personalised recommendations