Prominent Rohingya leader shot dead in Bangladesh refugee camp

A prominent Rohingya Muslim leader has been shot dead in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.Mohibullah, centre, formed the Rohingya group ARPSH in a Bangladeshi camp months after the influx hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing prosecution in Myanmar in 2017 [File: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters]Mohibullah, centre, formed the Rohingya group ARPSH in a Bangladeshi camp months after the influx hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing prosecution in Myanmar in 2017.

Mohibullah, 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.

He was talking with other refugee leaders outside his office after attending evening prayers when a gunman shot him at least three times, Mohammad Nowkhim, a spokesman of Ullah’s Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARPSH), said.

“He was shot dead at point-blank,” he told AFP news agency from a hideout, as most Rohingya leaders have since gone into hiding after Mohibullah’s death.

Mohibullah was rushed to the main Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) hospital in the camp.

“He was brought dead,” a medical source confirmed to AFP.

Rafiqul Islam, a deputy police superintendent in the nearby town of Cox’s Bazar, told the Reuters news agency that Mohibullah 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.

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

Mohibullah formed the ARPSH in a Bangladeshi camp months after the influx of refugees from Myanmar, and it helped investigate the carnage carried out by the Myanmar armies and the Buddhist militias during the crackdown.

In August 2019, he organised a massive rally at Kutapalong camp, the main Rohingya settlement, which some 200,000 Rohingya attended. The rally confirmed his top leadership among the refugees.

But in recent years, Bangladeshi security forces restricted the activities of Mohibullah’s group and ARPSH was not allowed to hold any rallies during the anniversary of the crackdown in 2020 and 2021.

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