Rohingya Leader Shot Dead in Bangladesh Refugee Camp; Is Arakan Salvation Army Behind Killing?

Gunmen have shot and killed a prominent Rohingya leader in a refugee camp in the Bangladesh resort district of Cox's Bazar on Wednesday evening .

Mohibullah, 46, was the Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH) based in Cox's Bazar. He was talking with other refugee leaders outside his office after attending evening prayers on Wednesday when at least four assailants shot him dead, said Rafiqul Islam, police spokesperson of Cox's Bazar.

"Four to five unidentified assailants shot him from close range. He was declared dead at a MSF hospital in the camp," he told AFP.

Mohammad Nowkhim, a spokesman for the ARPSH, said Mohibullah was talking to other Rohingya leaders outside the ARPSH office at Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee settlement, when an unidentified assailant shot him three times.

"He was in a pool of blood. He was brought dead to the nearby hospital," Nowkhim said from a hideout, adding that many Rohingya leaders had gone into hiding after the killing, reported Reuters.

Mohibullah was the Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace & Human Rights (ARSPH) based in Cox’s Bazar. Twitter

Mohibullah: A High-Profile Advocate for the Rohingyas

He was a key figure in the Rohingya repatriation process as the representative of over 1 million refugees currently living in camps in the Cox's Bazar area of Bangladesh. He demanded justice for Rohingyas against the Myanmar military which is being investigated by several international agencies for atrocities against the Rohingyas.

According to media reports, Mohibullah sought the safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to Myanmar. In 2019, he met US President Donald Trump as part of the religious freedom meeting organized by the State Department. He organized a massive rally in August 2019 to mark the second anniversary of the military crackdown in the Rakhine province of Myanmar which led to the fleeing of Rohingyas to Bangladesh.

Gunmen have shot and killed Mohibullah, a prominent Rohingya leader in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh Twitter

But his high profile made him a target of hardliners and he received death threats, he told Reuters in 2019. "If I die, I'm fine. I will give my life," he said at the time.

In recent years, Bangladeshi security forces restricted the activities of his group, ARPSH. It was not allowed to hold any rallies during the anniversary of the crackdown last year and this year, according to AFP.

Who Killed Mohibullah?

No one has claimed responsibility, but a Rohingya leader told AFP that Mohibullah was killed by the extremist group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which was behind several attacks on Myanmar security posts in recent years.

"It is a work of ARSA," he said.

International rights organizations have called for investigation into the killing of Mohibullah.

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

The problem of violence in Cox's Bazaar's refugee camps is getting worse. Armed groups linked to drug cartels have killed and kidnapped people. To avert future violence, the government must act quickly, the statement added.