Human rights groups call for full investigation into murder of Rohingya leader | News from the Rohingya

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Human rights groups have called for an investigation into the murder of a prominent Rohingya leader who was shot dead in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Mohibullah, in his 40s and father of eight, was killed by unidentified gunmen at a camp in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday evening. He led one of the largest community groups to emerge since more than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after a military crackdown on the predominantly Muslim minority in August 2017.

“He left me with so much responsibility,” his wife, Nasima Begum, told Al Jazeera. “I’m devastated, how can I handle the family now? It is a difficult road to travel. I’m afraid to live here now, we need security.

Human Rights Watch called Mohibullah a vital voice for the Rohingya community.

“He has always championed the rights of the Rohingya to safe and dignified returns and to have a say in decisions about their lives and futures. His assassination is a blatant demonstration of the risks faced by those in the camps defending freedom and against violence, ”Meenakshi Ganguly, director of the South Asian rights group, said in a statement.

“Mohibullah’s death undermines not only the struggle of the Rohingya refugees for more rights and protection in the refugee camps, but also their efforts to return safely to their homes in Myanmar. The Bangladeshi authorities should urgently investigate the murder of Mohibullah as well as other attacks on Rohingya militants in the camps, ”she said.

Mohibullah, a leader of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, talks to other Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in 2019 [File: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters]

Amnesty International also condemned the murder and urged the Bangladeshi authorities and the United Nations refugee agency to work together to ensure the protection of those in the camps, including Rohingya refugees, activists and aid workers and from the local community, many of whom share concerns. on their safety.

“Violence in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar is a growing problem,” said Saad Hammadi, Amnesty’s campaign manager for South Asia. “Armed groups operating drug cartels have killed people and held hostages. Authorities must take immediate action to prevent further bloodshed. “

“Severe action”

Mohibullah was known as a moderate who advocated for the return of the Rohingya to Myanmar with rights denied to them during decades of persecution.

He was the leader of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, founded in 2017 to document the atrocities committed against the Rohingya in their native Myanmar and give them a voice in international discussions about their future.

But his notoriety made him a target of hardliners and he received death threats, he told Reuters news agency in 2019. “If I die, I’m fine. I will give my life, “he said at the time.

The Bangladesh government has pledged to take action against the Mohibullah killers.

“The government will take tough action against those who were implicated in the murder. No one will be spared, ”Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said in his first comment since the murder.

Momen said in a statement that “vested” interests were responsible for the murder because Mohibullah had wanted to return to Myanmar. “The murderers of Mohibullah must be brought to justice. “

Police said the murder was well planned and on Friday arrested a suspect in the case.

“All police units are involved in resolving this case and finding the motive,” said Naimul Haq, the commander of the 14th Armed Police Battalion. “I hope we will resolve this matter soon.”

‘Devastated’

The murder has sparked grief and anger in the camps where some residents say it is the latest evidence of escalating violence as armed gangs vie for power.

In a video posted on social media, Mohibullah’s brother Habibullah, who said he witnessed the shooting, accused the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an armed group active in the camps.

“They killed him because he is the leader and all the Rohingyas respect him,” Habibullah said. Before opening fire, “They said that he cannot be a leader of the Rohingya and that there can be no leader for the Rohingya,” he said.

His account could not be independently verified. ARSA said in a Twitter post on Friday that it was “shocked and saddened” by the murder and denounced “the baseless and hearsay accusations.”

More than a million Rohingya live in the camps, the vast majority having fled neighboring Myanmar during the military crackdown which UN investigators say was carried out with genocidal intent.

Myanmar denies committing genocide, claiming it was waging a legitimate campaign against armed fighters who attacked police stations.


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