Asia - Pacific

Popular Rohingya leader killed in Bangladesh refugee camp

Mohibullah, head of Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, gunned down in Cox's Bazar camp

Md. Kamruzzaman   | 29.09.2021
Popular Rohingya leader killed in Bangladesh refugee camp

DHAKA, Bangladesh

A prominent Rohingya leader was shot dead in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Wednesday night.

Mohibullah, head of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, was gunned down outside his office in the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, a witness told Anadolu Agency.

“Seven or eight assailants shot at Mohibullah outside his office after the evening prayers at around 8.30 p.m. (1430GMT),” said Mohammad Ahsan, a Rohingya refugee who saw the attack.

“There were at least five gunshots. Mohibullah was hit three times on the chest. We rushed him to the MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in the camp, but the doctor on duty said he was already dead.”

The shooters managed to escape from the area, according to Ahsan.

Another Rohingya, who requested anonymity, told Anadolu Agency that Mohibullah had recently informed the police and other authorities of threats to his life.

“It is really worrying for us. We know he was given no protection despite having told authorities that he was constantly getting threats,” the Rohingya refugee said.

Mohibullah was a popular figure among the over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, most of whom fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017.

International rights group have also condemned the murder and called for an immediate action against the perpetrators.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Mohibullah was “documenting the Myanmar military’s crimes against the Rohingya and advocating for the refugees’ rights in international forums … (and) faced death threats in recent years for his work.”

“Mohibullah was a vital voice for the community of Rohingya who had already suffered unimaginable loss and pain when they arrived as refugees in Bangladesh,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director.

“He always defended the rights of the Rohingya to safe and dignified returns and to have a say in the decisions concerning their lives and future. His killing is a stark demonstration of the risks faced by those in the camps who speak up for freedom and against violence.”

She said his murder “undermines not only the struggle of Rohingya refugees for greater rights and protection in the refugee camps, but also their efforts to safely return to their homes in Myanmar.”

“Bangladeshi authorities should urgently investigate Mohibullah’s killing along with other attacks on Rohingya activists in the camps,” Ganguly added.

Matthew Smith, head of Fortify Rights, called Mohibullah’s death “a devastating loss” and said the Rohingya leader “never received the protection he needed and deserved.”

“It is also a tremendous loss for Myanmar, the Rohingya people, and the human rights movement more broadly. The government of Bangladesh must immediately investigate anyone who may have been involved in this heinous crime and ensure justice,” he said in a statement.

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