Rohingya Community Leader Shot Dead in Bangladesh Refugee Camp

Armed groups on Wednesday shot and killed a prominent Rohingya Muslim leader, Mohib Ullah, in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, according to a UN spokesman and a local police official. The incident comes after violence in the world’s largest refugee settlement has worsened in recent months.

Ullah, who is about 40 years old, leads one of the largest community groups to emerge since August 2017 when more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar after experiencing violence by the Myanmar military.

Ullah has also been invited to the White House to speak about the plight of the Rohingya Muslim group before the UN Human Rights Council.

Rafiqul Islam, deputy superintendent of police in the nearby town of Cox’s Bazar, told the news agency Reuters by telephone said Mohib Ullah had been shot dead by armed groups but did not give details of the incident.

A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was “deeply saddened” by the killing of Mohib Ullah.

“We are in constant contact with law enforcement authorities tasked with maintaining peace and security in the (refugee) camps,” the spokesman said.

Mohib Ullah’s group, which calls its association the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, is known for its courage in documenting the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people. The United Nations itself has branded the treatment carried out by Myanmar’s military groups as atrocities with the intention of committing genocide.

Rohingya Muslim group leader Mohib Ullah (center) speaks to fellow refugees at Cox's Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh on April 7, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

Rohingya Muslim group leader Mohib Ullah (center) speaks to fellow refugees at Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh on April 7, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

In Bangladesh’s refugee camps, Mohib Ullah went to tents one by one to collect the number of murders, rapes and arsons and he passed the data on to international investigators.

His organizations work together to give refugees a more voice within the camps and at international forums. Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, he said the Rohingya wanted their voices to be heard so that they could determine their own future.

But Ullah’s fame made him a target for hardliners and received death threats, as he told Reuters in 2019. “If I die, I accept. I will give my life,” he said at the time.

Camp residents say Bangladesh’s sprawling camps are increasingly violent with gunmen vying for power. They kidnapped critics, and warned women not to violate conservative Islamic norms.

Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya civil society activist and adviser to the Myanmar National Unity Government, the civilian equivalent of the one formed after the coup in February, said Mohib Ullah’s death was a “huge loss to the Rohingya community.”

Ullah himself is aware of the threat that lurks, but he tries not to think about it because if he doesn’t do his job of documenting the violence, no one will. (my/jm)

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