For our freedom and rights, he gave his life
Mohibullah was one of the most important struggling leaders for my people, the persecuted Rohingya Muslims. He was assassinated here in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on Wednesday, September 29.
Mohibullah was known as a moderate who advocated for the Rohingya to return to Myanmar with rights equal to those of other Myanmar citizens, which we have been denied for decades. He was the leader of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), which he founded in 2017 to document atrocities committed against the Rohingya in our native Myanmar. He gave us a voice in international talks about our future.
His life was threatened many times, and he lived in fear that he would be killed. He asked for protection from the UN and Bangladesh government countless times, but they failed to help him.
Despite the threats he faced, whenever his family asked him to leave the camp, he replied that he would not go anywhere as he did not want to leave the vulnerable refugees due to intimidation.
“If I leave my people, who will work?” he asked. He often commented on his own death: "I will die sooner or later, with Allah's order.” However, he tried to engage some of his friends and neighbours as guards, and slept in other families’ shelters over the past two years.
Our people greatly admire his willingness to live at such risk, constantly facing death, because he had a strong and heroic spirit and insisted on marching towards the goal of our freedom and rights. For this, our comrade gave his life.
From my point of view as a refugee youth leader, Mohibullah served as best he could for our people by selflessly giving his knowledge and skills. He led and documented much of the Rohingya history. He sacrificed his life to bring peace and justice to his people. He will live on in the hearts of every single Rohingya person who wishes for justice.
He was considered the favourite leader of the grassroots Rohingya, as he lived alongside us. He was also recognized by the Rohingya as a truly communitarian leader. We salute Mohibullah as a comrade and as our people’s father of peace.
Indeed, he was nicknamed Peace Father. As one refugee elder named Miya recently told me, “Rohingya refugees live disgruntled and hopeless, but Mohibullah always gave us hope with his sweet words and made us feel happy and hopeful. That's why people called him Peace Father.”
If someone were to ask me how important Comrade Mohibullah was for the Rohingya, my answer would be that he was a valuable national treasure and the leader who we hoped would lead us to justice and enable us to repatriate to our homeland.
Numerous delegations, UN agencies, and foreign researchers have come to work in or visit the camp, but they never worked to help us repatriate. Only our singular hero Mohibullah worked hard for our repatriation.
Mohibullah did all this in a dangerous camp environment where the Rohingya feel totally unsafe. We live in fear of the rampant violence, killings, kidnapping and abuses by criminal actors, which occur on a daily or weekly basis.
Imagine, if Mohibullah, the most prestigious and valuable person amongst the refugee population could be killed so easily, what dangerous conditions must the rest of us endure? There are many security forces who man the checkpoints at the camp entrances, but they don’t protect us refugees inside.
We have grown tired of requesting for better security in the camps. There are countless security and intelligence agents patrolling the camps at all times. But every bad thing imaginable still takes place despite their presence.
What is the point of this type of security presence, if not to protect us? This is not what we need. Instead, we need safety and to build up our own capacity to fight against the criminal groups who come out at night to threaten and harm us.
For many young Rohingya in the camps, the killing of Mohibullah meant the destruction of our hope for our future. But at the same time we feel called to action more than ever. His killing has set fire in our hearts.
All camp residents are in huge grief and are enraged, calling for revenge. He was a perfect mentor and inspiration for all youth and students. Many rumours and allegations are spreading about the culprits, and the people demand justice.
I predict that more blood will be shed amongst our angry and vengeful people if justice is not immediately served. We are pleading for a transparent investigation into the cause of his assassination and for action to be taken against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
D San Thar is a Rohingya poet-activist, student, and educator living in the camps. He has chosen writing as a medium to raise awareness.
The article “Everything you always wanted to know about Mohib Ullah” included the following quote: “They (ARSA) work hand in glove with the [Myanmar] government.” In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that he was referring to the Myanmar government in this statement.