Killing of prominent Rohingya leader condemned

Press release

(Bangkok, Dhaka, Paris) FIDH, Odhikar, the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), and Women’s Peace Network (WPN) condemn the killing of a prominent Rohingya leader and urge the Bangladeshi government to hold a swift, thorough, and effective investigation into his death, hold the perpetrators accountable, and protect all Rohingya refugees.

Muhib Ullah, in his late 40s, was fatally shot by unknown assailants in his office in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh, on the evening of 29 September 2021. Muhib Ullah was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at approximately 8.30pm.

“The killing of Muhib Ullah underscores the unsafe conditions for Rohingya refugees in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. Muhib Ullah was a victim of a targeted assassination intended to silence his peaceful activism for the rights of Rohingya. Bangladeshi authorities must investigate this cowardly act, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure the protection of all Rohingya in the camps.”

Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary-General and Odhikar Secretary

Muhib Ullah was the chair of the Kutupalong-based Rohingya organization Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPHR). He had fled to Bangladesh with his family members in September 2017, days after Myanmar security forces unleashed a second wave of deadly attacks against Rohingya civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017.

In the camps, Muhib Ullah worked incessantly to document atrocities against Rohingya in Rakhine State, and establish justice and accountability for these crimes. He also advocated for the rights of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and consistently urged the Myanmar government to recognize and guarantee the rights of Rohingya as a condition for their safe, voluntary, and dignified return to Rakhine State. Because of his activism in the camps, Muhib Ullah was taken into custody and questioned by Bangladeshi authorities several times, and received numerous death threats.

“The killing of Muhib Ullah is a bitter reality of the collective failure to provide protection and bring justice to Rohingya genocide survivors. Now no one feels safe in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps. Bangladeshi authorities must investigate his murder immediately.”

Wai Wai Nu, WPN Executive Director

In March 2019, Muhib Ullah, along with fellow Rohingya refugee Hamida Katun, travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, to address the 40th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. In his speech to the UN body, Muhib Ullah said: “[…] Today we are branded Kalar. They call us illegal immigrants, Bengalis, Muslim terrorists. We are not any of these. We are citizens of Myanmar. We are Rohingya. We are not stateless. Stop calling us that. We have a state. It is Myanmar. So, we want to go home to Myanmar with our rights, our citizenship, and security on the ground.”

Muhib Ullah’s death is a great loss to the Rohingya. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on.

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