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Rohingya refugees fear for lives after leader's murder in Bangladesh camp

Rights group calls for urgent measures to protect Rohingya activists and refugees

Rohingya refugees fear for lives after leader's murder in Bangladesh camp

Human Rights Watch and the Catholic Church have called for the protection of Rohingya refugees and activists in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Bangladeshi authorities and the United Nations to take urgent measures to protect Rohingya refugees and activists facing threats and violence inside refugee camps.

Many have been scared for their lives since unidentified gunmen shot and killed Mohib Ullah, 46, chair of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), in Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sept. 29.

“Bangladesh authorities should take urgent measures, with international assistance, to protect Rohingya activists who are defending the rights of refugees,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at HRW, said on Oct. 6.

Mohib Ullah had repeatedly reported threats from armed groups operating in the camps to Bangladeshi officials but received insufficient support from the authorities. Alleged members of Islamist groups were increasingly targeting the Rohingya for extortion and other crimes, the statement said.

His killing in a place of refuge “speaks volumes about the risks that Rohingya activists face every day,” Ganguly said, adding that the interviews conducted by HRW with family members and fellow activists of Mohib Ullah revealed that the authorities did not adequately investigate his concerns or provide protection for him.

“The Bangladesh government deployed many security forces in the camps, but they were busy subduing and controlling refugees instead of protecting them,” said one activist.

It is not a normal incident, especially when talks of Rohingya repatriation are going on. It is up to the Bangladesh government to investigate

Faizullah, 47, from Kutupalong camp and a member of the ARSPH, said Mohib Ullah always spoke of liberating the Rohingya and returning to Myanmar with dignity.

“Many leaders of our organization are still receiving threats. We have informed the authorities about the matter. But we are not getting much response,” he told UCA News.

A senior Bangladesh police official working in Cox's Bazar denied the allegation. There were so many Rohingya living in such a small area that it was difficult to patrol it, he said on condition of anonymity.

“We have arrested five suspects for the murder and have taken them to remand,” he added.

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The Catholic Church has called for a detailed investigation into the killing of Mohib Ullah.

“It is not a normal incident, especially when talks of Rohingya repatriation are going on. It is up to the Bangladesh government to investigate,” said Holy Cross Father Liton Hubert Gomes, secretary of the Catholic bishops' Justice and Peace Commission.

More than 742,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since a brutal clampdown by Myanmar's military in August 2017, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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