Investigators suspect Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah was killed by people known to him; outrage, frustration grip refugee camps
Fear, frustration, and anger gripped refugees in Cox’s Bazar as the identity of the gunmen and their motive behind killing Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah remain unknown.
The leading representative of the Rohingya cause might have been killed by individuals he knew because no one stopped them when they walked into his office in Kutupalong camp around 8:30pm on Wednesday, law enforcers said.
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However, Mohib’s grieving brother Habib Ullah claimed that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) was behind the assassination, which prompted Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UNHCR to call for an investigation.
The 48-year-old chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights was buried at Charmukh graveyard inside the camp yesterday evening amid heightened security.
His namaz-e-janaza was attended by thousands of Rohingya refugees shocked at the loss of a leader who spoke for the human rights and protection of the Rohingya people.
Investigators termed the murder well-planned and said Mohib’s popularity in the Rohingya community could be the reason why a group wanted him dead.
“We suspect that people familiar with Mohib Ullah took part in the killing as there is no sign of scuffle… .” said Commanding Officer (CO) Naimul Huq of Armed Police Battalion-14 in Cox’s Bazar.
If they were outsiders, Mohib Ullah’s supporters would have stopped them, he said, adding that the murder was executed in a well-planned manner.
Police are examining the bullet shells found at the scene, officers said.
Soon after the killing, the local administration and police issued an alert as residents of the world’s largest refugee camp became tensed. Additional police forces were deployed in the camp area, said officials.
The CO speculated those trying to be at the helm of the Rohingya leadership could be behind the murder.
“We have several leads … ,” he said, adding that a rift in Mohib’s own organisation might have cost him his life.
Quoting witnesses, police sources said the assailants, wearing masks, entered Mohib’s office and opened fire with their automatic weapons.
“The Rohingya people as well as the local administration know which criminal groups have such firearms and who are using it,” the sources told this newspaper.
Mohib was among the most recognised Rohingya voices. He left behind his wife, four sons and five daughters.
The teacher-turned rights activist came to Bangladesh in 2017 when about 700,000 refugees fled Myanmar amid a violent crackdown by the Myanmar army.
He attained widespread recognition after a group led by him organised a huge rally in 2019 at the camp.
Later that year, he was invited to Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council and to the White House, where he spoke with the then president Trump as part of a meeting with survivors of religious persecution.
‘ARSA KILLED MY BROTHER’
Mohib’s younger brother Habib Ullah said around 20 men appeared in the office with firearms and shot his brother dead.
“The armed militants of ARSA killed my brother. He was killed as he played a pivotal role in Rohingya repatriation efforts,” he told reporters.
“My brother always worked for peace in the camps and spoke against criminal activities, including drug abuse,” he said.
He named three people involved in the assassination, a claim that this paper could not verify.
Local community elder Jalal Ahmed said, “We are frustrated and aggrieved. We demand investigation and arrest of the killers.”
Mohammad Yunus, a resident of Rohingya Camp-4, said, “We have lost our guardian. We don’t know whether we will get a leader of his stature again.”
Fear gripped the area after his death.
APBn-14 CO Naimul Huq said, “Around 300 APBn members were deployed in the camp for security.”
Police said an autopsy on Mohib’s body was performed at Cox’s Bazar Medical College around 12:00pm.