Rohingya Civil-Rights Leader Mohib Ullah Killed in Bangladesh

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A leader of the Rohingya Muslim community was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, prompting calls from rights advocates for an investigation.

Mohib Ullah, who his colleagues say was 48 years old, was among the most high-profile advocates for the Rohingya, a stateless minority from Myanmar that was targeted in a 2017 military offensive that forced more than 740,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. United Nations investigators have called for Myanmar army leaders to face genocide charges over the attacks.

Members of the organization led by Mr. Mohib Ullah said he was shot around 8:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday and declared dead at a hospital. They said two men arrived at Mr. Mohib Ullah’s office, where he had gone with several friends after evening prayers, and at least one opened fire. They didn’t know who the assailants were or the reason for the attack.

Doctors Without Borders confirmed that Mr. Mohib Ullah was taken to a hospital the group operates and said he was dead when he arrived. Authorities in Bangladesh couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Mohib Ullah served as chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, a civil-society organization that often represented the Rohingya internationally. In 2019, he was invited to Geneva to address the U.N. Human Rights Council and later to the White House, where he spoke with President

Donald Trump

as part of a meeting with survivors of religious persecution.

“I want you to imagine something this morning. Imagine you have no identity, no ethnicity, no country, nobody wants you,” Mr. Mohib Ullah said in his appeal to the Human Rights Council, the first time its members heard directly, in person, from Rohingya refugees. “How would you feel? This is how we feel today as Rohingya.”

Mr. Mohib Ullah’s killing was met with shock and grief among many refugees, who revered him as a unifying figure, and international human rights advocates who worked closely with him to document abuses against the group and to elevate refugee voices. It also underscored the dangerous environment in the world’s largest refugee settlement, where rival groups vie for control.

Human-rights groups say inadequate security has enabled gangs involved in illicit trade such as drug and people smuggling to proliferate in the camps, while also providing a haven for an armed group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Refugees say rival groups have intimidated residents, threatened moderate leaders and tried to enforce conservative Islamic norms.

In recent years, Mr. Mohib Ullah has received death threats.

“Imagine you have no identity, no ethnicity, no country, nobody wants you. How would you feel? This is how we feel today as Rohingya.”

— Mohib Ullah in his appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Council

Advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Fortify Rights called on Bangladeshi authorities to investigate Mr. Mohib Ullah’s death and protect vulnerable refugees.

“I feel this isn’t only about Mohib Ullah’s death, but also the total death of our community,” said Ayassul Hoque, a 37-year-old refugee who lives in the camps and was a friend of Mr. Mohib Ullah’s. “He was our representative and always tried to do positive things for us. He was educated and intelligent; we all respected him.”

Write to Feliz Solomon at

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