September 30, 2021, 02.18 PM
An image of Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Ukhia, Bangladesh. AFP / MUNIR UZ ZAMANAn image of Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Ukhia, Bangladesh.

KOMPAS.com - Gunmen shot and killed a prominent Rohingya Muslim leader in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Wednesday, September 29.

This was confirmed by a UN spokesperson and a local police official following months of worsening violence in the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Mohib Ullah, who was in his late 40s, led one of the largest of several community groups to emerge since more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar after a military crackdown in August 2017.

Invited to the White House and to speak to the UN Human Rights Council, he was one of the most high-profile advocates for the Rohingya, a Muslim minority that has faced persecution for generations.

Also read: Indonesia Reaffirms Commitment to Help Rohingya Refugee Crisis during UN Meet

Rafiqul Islam, a deputy police superintendent in the nearby town of Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters by phone that Mohib Ullah had been shot dead but had no additional details.

A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the agency was “deeply saddened” by the killing of Mohib Ullah. “We are in continuous contact with law enforcement authorities in charge of maintaining peace and security in the camps,” the spokesperson said.

Documented atrocities

Mohib Ullah’s group, the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, made its name documenting atrocities the Rohingya suffered during the Myanmar crackdown, which the UN has said was carried out with genocidal intent.

At the Bangladesh refugee camps, Mohib Ullah went from hut to hut to build a tally of killings, rape, and arson that was shared with international investigators.

His organization worked to give refugees more of a voice inside the camps and internationally. Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, he said the Rohingya wanted more of a say over their future.

Also read81 Rohingya Refugees Stranded in Indonesias Aceh Province

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.

The sprawling camps in Bangladesh have become increasingly violent, residents say, with armed men vying for power, kidnapping critics, and warning women against breaking conservative Islamic norms.

Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya civil society activist and an adviser to Myanmar’s National Unity Government, the parallel civilian government established after February's coup, said Mohib Ullah’s death was a “big loss for the Rohingya community.”

“He was always aware there is a threat, but he thinks that despite the threat if he is not doing the work he is doing, no one else would,” he said.

Discussion on the Rohingya issue during UN Meet 

Meanwhile, on the day of the incident, a discussion on the Rohingya issue was held during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Also read18-Year-Old Rohingya Refugee Runs Away from Camp in Indonesia’s Aceh

Indonesia reaffirmed its commitment to continue assisting Bangladesh in dealing with Rohingya refugees. “Once again, I'd like to inform you about Indonesia's commitment to continue helping Bangladesh in the handling of the Rohingya issue,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told a press conference on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Wednesday, September 29.

Retno said that the assistances included, among others, preparing for a voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation. She said that Indonesia continues to intensify the assistance after the delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’d also like to emphasize that Indonesia will continue to touch on the Rohingya issue at every meeting on Myanmar-related issues,” he said.

The minister said that Indonesia and Bangladesh were co-chairing the side event on the Rohingya issue. Besides, Indonesia also discussed and exchanged views on the latest situation of Rohingya refugees during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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