Rohingya leader killed for wanting to return: minister

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Police say a 28-year-old Rohingya man has been arrested over the murder of Mohib Ullah. AFP

BANGLADESHI foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on October 2 vowed to bring the killers of Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah to justice soon.

He said a vested quarter killed Mohib Ullah as he wanted to return to his home country of Myanmar.

"The government will take stern action against those involved in the killing. Nobody will be spared," he said.

This was the minister's first remarks after the global condemnation of the Rohingya leader's murder.

Police on the night of September 30 registered a murder case in this regard, a day after the killing took place at Ukhiya camp in Cox's Bazar, one of many in eastern Bangladesh which are home to over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar.

The first information report (FIR) was filed with Ukhiya Police Station against unidentified people following a complaint from Mohib Ullah's brother Habib Ullah, OC Sanjur Morshed of the police station said.

Unidentified assailants opened fire on the 44-year-old Rohingya leader on the night of September 29. He was first rushed to a local medical facility and later shifted to Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital, where doctors declared him dead on arrival.

A militant group accused of killing Mohib Ullah on October 1 it was "shocked and saddened" by his death, pointing the finger at "unidentified transnational border-based criminals".

The Rohingya leader had received death threats from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa), who were enraged by his growing popularity in the camps, activists told AFP. His brother has openly accused Arsa of his murder.

In a Twitter statement on October 1, Arsa said: "It is time for bringing the criminals to their accountability instead of finger-pointing with baseless and heavy accusations."

AFP has contacted the group for comment.

On October 1, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for a "prompt, thorough, and independent investigation" into the killing.

A 28-year-old Rohingya man has been arrested over the murder, Bangladesh police said on October 1.

"I don't know if he is a member of Arsa," commanding officer Naimul Haque told AFP. "More information will be known after interrogation."

Arsa were behind a spate of attacks on Myanmar security posts in 2017 and are also blamed for attacks on Hindus living in Rohingya villages in the country's western Rakhine province.

Mohib Ullah had set up the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, a rights group that documented atrocities allegedly committed against the Rohingya by the Myanmar military during its 2017 offensive.

The military crackdown prompted hundreds of thousands of the long-oppressed mostly Muslim minority to flee into Bangladesh, where they remain four years later in squalid refugee camps.

Popularly known as Master Mohib Ullah among the Rohingyas, the former schoolteacher rose to prominence after his group held a grand rally on the second anniversary of the crackdown in 2019, which an estimated 200,000 Rohingya attended.

That year, Mohib Ullah also met then US president Donald Trump at the White House during a meeting on religious freedom, and spoke at a UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mohib Ullah was buried at Kutupalong Lambashia's Rohingya Camp-1 in Ukhiya upazila – equivalent to a commune in Cambodia – on the afternoon of September 30 after a “namaz-e-janaza” Islamic funeral prayer, which was attended by a large number of Rohingya refugees from camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas.

Up to 25,000 people attended his funeral prayers, police said. Nazir Hossain, a Rohingya leader, said there were 200,000. THE DAILY STAR (BANGLADESH)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP