Many fear that the demise of Mohib Ullah will lead to extremist views gaining more ground in the camps
The murder of Mohib Ullah on Wednesday night has created a huge leadership vacuum among the moderate Rohingyas across all the 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar, according to people engaged with the slain leader.
They fear that the demise of the popular Rohingya leader will allow the groups with extremist views to gain more ground in the camps which might in turn become a serious problem for the government of Bangladesh.
A teacher-turned-activist, Mohib Ullah was gunned down by unidentified miscreants at a Rohingya camp on Wednesday night. The motive of the murder is yet to be known and no arrest has so far been made in connection with the murder.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat, who is the top government official on the ground with respect to the Rohingya crisis, and Deputy Inspector General of Chittagong Range of Bangladesh Police Anwar Hossain could not be reached for their comments.
Individuals who have experience in dealing with Mohib Ullah and his organization, Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH) say that he was the most popular leader among the Rohingyas, especially those with moderate views.
He was a believer of peaceful movement for the just cause of the Rohingyas and he was pro-repatriation, subject to the fulfillment of their demands, including the issue of citizenship. A plurality of Rohingyas would count on his leadership.
His departure is all but certain to subdue the voice of the moderate Rohingyas, who will find it difficult to find a new leader of Mohib Ullah’s calibre. Wednesday's killing is also feared to make the law and order situation even worse in the camps, where armed groups reportedly fight among themselves and terrorize ordinary residents.
It also remains to be seen how, in the absence of Mohib Ullah, the Rohingya community will press their demands to be repatriated in a dignified manner and to bring the perpetrators of atrocities against them in Myanmar to justice.
The positive image of Mohib Ullah and ARSPH to the west
Mohib Ullah, who became prominent after organizing a huge rally on August 25, 2019 to mark the second anniversary of the latest Rohingya exodus, used to be unofficially recognized by the west as a rightful representative of the forcibly-displaced Myanmar nationals from Rakhine.
The outpouring of tribute from important western nations like the US, UK, and Canada for him is a reflection of his importance to the international community.
The visit of the murdered leader to the White House in 2019 projected his importance to the west.
According to sources at the diplomatic missions in Dhaka, the foreign diplomats, especially from the west, are worried by the killing of Mohib Ullah and overall law and order situation in the camps.
Mohib Ullah established ARSPH, a community-based platform, to make the voice of the Rohingyas heard on the issues that matter to them.
This organization is mostly organized among those based in Cox’s Bazar and is internationally recognized, though unofficially.
The death of Mohib Ullah will inevitably affect the organization.
More to the point, it will inevitably affect the balance of power in the camps.