The United States and human rights groups are calling for a thorough investigation into the recent shooting death of a prominent Rohingya Muslim leader in a Bangladeshi refugee camp.
Mohibullah, known by the same name and in his 40s, was killed by unidentified gunmen on Wednesday in the camp of Kutalong along with Cox’s Bazar.
On Thursday evening, thousands of refugees went to his funeral services before Mohibullah was buried in a cemetery inside the camp.
The incident comes amid growing violence in the area, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees evacuated from neighboring Myanmar in 2017 by waves of state-sponsored violence.
Mohibullah has been an international advocate for Rohingya rights, including attending the White House for a religious freedom conference in 2019.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was traumatized by the assassination and praised Mohibullah as a brave and fierce Rohingya rights activist.
“We urge a full and transparent investigation into his death with the aim of holding the perpetrators of this heinous crime accountable. We will honor his role by continuing to support the Rohingya by raising the voices of community members in making decisions about their future, “Blinken said in China.
Mohibullah’s death marks the ongoing fighting of the Rohingya, a minority group of Muslims who have long been persecuted by the Myanmar government, as they fight not only to migrate but also to threaten their security in the camps, Human Rights Watch said.
“He always defended the rights of the Rohingya to a safe and dignified return and to have a say in decisions that affect their lives and future,” Meenakshi Ganguly, director of the South Asian group, said in a statement.
“His execution is a powerful demonstration of the dangers faced by those in the camps who speak freely and fight violence.”
The UN refugee agency has condemned the attack and said it was meeting with Rohingya refugee protection agencies.
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“We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to conduct a thorough investigation immediately, and to prosecute those responsible,” he said.
As the leader of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, Mohibullah carefully considered the evidence of concentration camp survivors. The detailed report he provided has been cited in numerous investigations, including one by the International Criminal Court.
He spoke at the UN Human Rights Council in 2019, and later that year he was part of a group of religious activists who met with former President Donald Trump at the White House.
In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council, Mohibullah said the Rohingya had experienced “systematic killings” in Myanmar, where the government denies them citizenship.
“Imagine you have no identity card, no race, no country, no one loves you,” he said. “How would you feel? This is how we feel today as Rohingya.”
He said the Rohingya wanted to return home if they could be guaranteed citizenship and security.
“We have no country. Stop calling that,” he said. “We have a country, Myanmar.”
But Mohibullah’s global reach increased, so did the death threats.
“Everyone in the world has made their overseas travels aware of the death threats they have received, over the last 12 months,” Eva Buzo, Mohibullah’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview with NBC News.
Saad Hammadi, a South Asian campaigner for Amnesty International, said Mohibullah’s assassination “is a threat to society.”
The human rights group said that since last year, about 2,000 Rohingya refugees have been forced to flee their homes by violence between two groups competing for control of the illegal drug trade in the camp.
The Associated Press involved.