• Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:24 am

Who is behind the murder of Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah?

  • Published at 05:42 pm September 30th, 2021
Mohib Ullah at Kutupalong Refugee camp
Rohingya refugees offer funeral prayers for their leader Mohib Ullah at Kutupalong Refugee camp in Ukhiya on Thursday, September 30, 2021 a day after unidentified assailants gunned him down outside his office in a refugee camp AFP

Family blames Rohingya militants; police yet to detain anyone

The police are still in the dark about the miscreants involved in the murder of Mohib Ullah, an internationally recognized representative of the displaced Rohingya community. However, his family and witnesses claim to have identified some of them.

Mohib Ullah, chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), was shot dead at a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar by unknown gunmen on Wednesday at around 8pm, according to the police.

Several international rights organizations have condemned the killing and called for an immediate investigation.

Several witnesses said they had recognized at least three attackers out of the 20-25 during the shooting, claiming them to be members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

Also Read - 'We want to return to our homeland Myanmar with dignity and honour'

Meanwhile, the police have yet to detain anyone in this connection.

“We are trying to apprehend the miscreants by conducting a series of drives,” Cox’s Bazar Additional SP Md Rafiqul Islam said on Thursday afternoon.

Md Habibullah, Mohib’s younger brother, said they had gone to the ARSPH office in Kutupalong’s Lambashia camp after Isha prayers on Wednesday. At the time, several shots were fired at Mohib, who was hit thrice.

File photo: Mohib Ullah, a teacher turned rights activist, was one of the most high-profile advocates for the Rohingyas. He was invited to the White House and to speak to the UN Human Rights Council | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

“We instantly recognized three of the attackers, [namely] Abdur Rahim Master, Murshid and Lalu. The rest are also known faces in the camp. We can identify them if they are arrested,” he added.

Abdur Rahim, a leader of ARSA, was the one who shot his brother, Habibullah claimed.

Additional SP Rafiqul said police were gathering intelligence to nab the killers as the victim’s family had yet to officially accuse anyone through the filing of a case.

Also Read - UNHCR condemns Mohib Ullah killing

The slain Rohingya leader’s family was in the process of lodging a case with Ukhiya police station following a namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayers), which was attended by hundreds of Rohingyas.

Rohingyas at the camp claimed that the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) failed to prevent the murder despite the fact that one of its offices is close to the ARSPH office and the perpetrators took around 10-15 minutes to complete their mission of murder.

However, Naimul Haque, an APBn commander in Cox’s Bazar, said the killers had left the spot post-haste as police rushed to take Mohib to hospital.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International South Asia Campaigner Saad Hammadi, in a statement on Wednesday, said: “The onus now falls on Bangladeshi authorities to conduct a prompt investigation into his [Mohib] death and bring all those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials."

Also Read - Mohib Ullah murder a crippling blow for moderates

“His killing sends a chilling effect across the entire community,” he added.

Who was Mohib Ullah?

Mohib Ullah, who was in his late 40s, was a teacher who later emerged as a key Rohingya leader and a spokesperson representing the Muslim ethnic group in international meetings. He was very popular in the Rohingya community due to his dedication to ensuring the rights of such vulnerable people.

“My brother used to step forward to solve any problems faced by the Rohingyas. He worked for a long time to ensure their rights. My brother was known as a leader of the Rohingyas not only here [Bangladesh], but also in the international arena,” said Md Habibullah.

Mohib had formed the ARSPH to ensure the Rohingyas’ repatriation to Myanmar.

Looking back at their work together, rights activist Noor Khan Liton said he and Mohib had been working in close association to ensure human rights, and that he had even talked to the fallen Rohingya leader as recently as last Tuesday.

Mohib had mentioned that his life was in danger, Liton said, adding that some extremist groups, including ARSA, had threatened him to stop him from raising his voice against the group’s terrorist activities.

Mohib lived in Kutupalong refugee camp with his family. He leaves behind his wife Nasima, three daughters and three sons.

Mohib’s struggle

Rohingyas at the camps said Mohib was a very popular figure as he had raised his voice even in Rakhine state against the military crackdown on the community. He had established ties with UN bodies to keep them abreast of the Rohingyas’ situation.

He played a great role in uniting Rohingyas who fled Myanmar fearing persecution by the security forces of the country.

Yang-Hee Lee, professor at Sungkyunkwan University and former UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, tweeted: “Absolutely devastated at news of cold blooded killing of Ko Mohibullah, Chair of ARSPH, in Cox's Bazar Refugee Camps. He was a courageous defender of  Rohingya Human Rights.”

Also Read - Mohib Ullah: The leader of the Rohingya

Mohib Ullah even visited the White House in 2019 for a meeting on religious freedom with the then president Donald Trump and spoke about the sufferings and persecution faced by Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Sometime later in Cox’s Bazar, he led a rally voicing the Rohingyas’ demands, including safe repatriation.

However, he was slammed by the Bangladeshi media after he led a massive rally of 200,000 Rohingyas to mark the second anniversary of the crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

Who wanted him dead?

There are around six major extremist groups operating in the Rohingya camps, including ARSA. ARSA had even directly threatened Mohib several times.

“Maybe ARSA men killed him to suppress his humanitarian voice. We demand a proper investigation into the incident and punishment of the killers,” said Habibullah.

Meanwhile, Dr Sujit Kumar Datta, who teaches at the Department of International Relations of Chittagong University, said the authorities should also identify other aspects of the murder as it had raised several issues, including regional safety and security.

What does the future hold?

Mohib had been working for the safe return of the Rohingyas, which would now be further delayed due to the leadership vacuum created by his passing, remarked Dr Datta.

“The vulnerable Rohingya community is now left without a guardian figure. They will suffer now as several extremist groups are active in the camps,” he added.

Further cementing the point, a Rohingya leader named Zobair said the community would struggle in Mohib’s absence.

Rohingyas could face further persecution as their de facto leader was now dead, he feared.

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