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Rohingya: Safety is a major concern at refugee camp while people in Myanmar have to live under two authorities

  • Mohibullah – a Rohingya Muslim leader from the Arakan Rohingya Soceity for Peace and Human Rights was shot dead on 29 September
  • Mohibullah was granted short-lived visa to visit White House with the-then President Donald Trump on religious freedom, then to United Nations Human Rights Council demanding greater voice for Rohingya.
  • Rohingya communities in Rakhine are forced to pay protection racket to Arakan Army
  • Myanmar military told the community not to follow the instruction of Arakan Army 

Melbourne (Chindwin):  Security for more than 700,000 Rohingyas refugees in Cox Bazar, one of the largest refugee camps globally, has been a major concern after a prominent rights activist leader Mobhibullah was gunned down at his office on 29 September. 

Following the shooting of Mohibullah, The Chindwin has learned that many active advocates and leaders in the camp are in hiding as no one is safe at the camp from the hands of some extremist group. 

Mohib Ullah was shot down at point-blank, and the killing sent many Rohingya leaders into hiding, said one resident in the Cox Bazar’s camp to APG news agency on 29 September. 

Cox’s bazar, Bangladesh – April 04, 2019: View of Rohingya refugees camp at Balukhali in Cox’s Bazar,Bangladesh. Photo by Naufel Zaquan

According to Reuters, Mohibullah was threatened by ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) in 2019, whose attacks on security posts in western Rakhine State preceded Myanmar’s army campaign that drove more than 730,000 thousand. 

Mostly Muslim Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh after the Burmese military campaigned a brutal crackdown in August 2007, which United Nations has said was carried out with genocidal intent. 

A refugee interviewed by Reuters in the Cox Bazar said that “Mohibullah lived in fear but never gave up. Everyone is in fear. If a leader like him was shot dead, who else is safe? No one.”

Jessica Olney, an independent research consultant, based in California, United States, has been closely working together with Mohibullah for Rohingya alongside many other Rohingya leaders, describing the loss of Mohib as an irreplaceable leader respected by many Rohingyas in the camps. 

The killing of Mohibullah adds to the safety woes in the world’s largest refugee camp and has prompted many organizations, including Amnesty International calling on the international community and Bangladeshi authority to step up security and bring those responsible for the shooting to justice. 

What is happening to Rohingya at home? 

The plights of Rohingya are more concerning after the military that drove them out of Rakhine State- has taken power back from the people, sending the fate of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya into more opaqueness. 

Our sources from Maungdaw, Rakhine have revealed that Rohingya communities are under pressure by the Arakan Army (AA) and the military junta – putting them in an arduous situation. A community leader who requests anonymity said, “we have no other choice but to comply with the demands by AA for protection racket, and any collections demanded by Myanmar military for the fact that the community fear that they would be harmed or hurt again like before if they do not do and give whatever is asked by both parties”. 

“Survival matters now for us,” he added. 

Some families, who have no money, have no choice but to give AA (Arakan Army) their cattle for the protection racket. 

There is a real fear for the community that something might happen if failure to pay whatever is demanded by the Arakan army, while Myanmar’s military is asking them not to work with AA nor accept what AA offers. 

Rohingya community, on other side, welcomes the news of potential inclusion in the so-called administrative mechanism, which Arakan Army is attempting to establish.

However, one community leader who requests his anonymity confirmed in relation to the potential approach by AA and said that Rohingya people believe that life would be much better at the hands of the Arakan Army than the military junta. 

So far, they are protecting us and allowing us to travel across the Rakhine state – which has never happened under the control of the military junta. 

In Rakhine State, Arakan Army is gaining control over a large area while the military has been effectively stretched thin by other ethnic armed groups and People Defense Forces fighting the military from many fronts.  

Political move on Rohingya 

Much of the positive progress that comes out of the people’s revolt against the military regime toppling the ruling NLD government is a broader acknowledgment of the plight of Rohingya among the majority of Barmar’s group. 

People raised three fingers salute and raising “Sorry” signboard aimed at Rohingya and ethnic groups.

Although no one from Rohingya communities is selected to be the cabinet member of a shadow government – National Unity Government, NUG is seen actively engaging with Rohingya communities, including those living in diasporas communities. 

The grassroots movement, such as the “sorry campaign” initiated by the Barmar people aimed at Rohingya, is largely shifting the dynamics of the current political development in the country. 

However, the future of Rohingya is unpredictable yet largely hangs on how the two power key stakeholders – Arakan Army and military junta – would play out their political move towards one of the most persecuted people on earth – Rohingya.  

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