The Financial Express


Silencing Rohingya voice?

| Updated: October 04, 2021 20:51:07

Mohib Ullah Mohib Ullah

Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah's killing in the evening of September 29 by unidentified assailants has drawn international condemnations. In fact, except the Rohingyas living in different camps in Ukhia and Teknaf in Cox's Bazar, few in Bangladesh was aware of a Rohingya leader of such international stature. The news of his killing sent shockwaves in the international community, especially among the leading international refugees and human rights organisations including the UN, UNHCR, UNHRC, Amnesty International and others. Major US newspapers like The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian of UK and other global print and electronic media treated the report on Mohib Ullah's assassination with due importance.

Even US top diplomat, Antony Blinken, expressing his sorrow and disquiet at Mohib's death, said that he was, to quote Reuters, 'a brave and fierce advocate for human rights of Rohingya Muslims around the world'. Further, he urged that a transparent investigation into Mohib's murder is carried out to bring his killers to justice. The UN as well as the various international rights groups also spoke high of the deceased Rohingya leader and made similar requests to Bangladesh government to nab his assailants, find out their identity and hold them to account. Bangladesh police have meanwhile arrested four suspects from the Kutupalong camp area where Mohib lived. Of the arrested, two have, meanwhile, been remanded in custody for interrogation.

Mohib could win the hearts of his fellow Rohingyas as he brought to the world bodies' attention in graphic detail how the Rohingya men, women and children were indiscriminately massacred, their houses burnt down and other unspeakable outrages committed against them by the Myanmar military. He founded the Arakan Society for Human Rights and Peace (ASHRP) in 2017 when the wounds of Rohingya persecution in Myanmar were still raw.  ASHRP, with Mohib as its chair, did the painstaking work of visiting hundreds of huts in the Rohingya camps and meticulously recording the individual stories of the brutalities each family was subjected to under the then-(so-called) democratic government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. In 2019, as part of a delegation of victims of religious persecution around the world, he went to the USA, met then-US president Donald Trump in the White House. He spoke before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHR) where he forcefully raised the issue of a people who, as he said, 'have no identity, no ethnicity, no country'.  The world heard him. He was popular within the displaced Rohingya community; his approach to the issue of Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar was firm though moderate. However, some groups with sinister motives among the Rohingyas did not want to see Mohib succeed. They had other unhelpful agenda that conflicted with Mohib's realistic, humanitarian goals. So, on several occasions they issued death threat against him. But the fear of being killed could not detract from his greater mission of serving the Rohingya cause.

Some suggested that Mohib Ullah killing is a security issue for the Rohingya community in Bangladesh. There is no denying the security aspect of the Mohib murder for not only the Rohingyas but also the local population. For if a high profile person of Mohib's stature could be thus gunned down by the terror-mongers within the crowded refugee camp, then no one else is safe in the area. Some are pointing finger at Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), while others at the secret operatives of a foreign government for the heinous killing.

The Myanmar's anti-military junta National Unity Government (NUG), which, reportedly, supports Rohingya cause, is keen to get the persecuted community beside it in its struggle. Mohib was leant to be going to hold a talk with them. Some believe such move on his part might have cost Mohib his life. Many theories are circulating about his killing.  

But more important than these theories is the future of the cause of the Rohingyas' repatriation that Mohib had been so selflessly pursuing. By killing Mohib Ullah, the assassins have actually tried to silence the loudest voice of the Rohingya people so far. The question is, will they succeed?


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