2021-10-03 00:06:25 Mohib Ullah, 46, Dies; Documented Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya

Mohib Ullah, 46, Dies; Documented Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya

Mohammed Mohib Ullah was born in a village in Maungdaw Township, a Rohingya-majority sliver of land bordering Bangladesh, to Fazal Ahmed and Ummel Fazal. Mr. Mohib Ullah’s father was a teacher, and he followed in his father’s footsteps by teaching science. He belonged to a generation of middle-class Rohingya who could still live in Myanmar. He majored in botany at a university in Yangon, the country’s largest city and home to a sizable Muslim population.

He took another job as an administrator in Maungdaw, a bustling town of markets and mosques. Some in the Rohingya community were skeptical of his work, wondering if he was collaborating with the state oppressors. He countered that progress could only be made through some form of participation.

In August 2017, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army militants attacked police stations and a military base in Rakhine State, killing about a dozen security personnel. The response was ferocious, bolstered by a troop surge in Rakhine just weeks before. Soldiers rampaged through Rohingya villages, sometimes aided by civilian mobs, shooting children and raping women. Entire communities were destroyed by fire. A UN human rights chief described it as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”

Over 750,000 Rohingya people fled their homes in a matter of months, flooding Bangladesh. Among them were Mr. Mohib Ullah, his wife, Naseema Begum, and their nine children. (He is survived by his wife and children.) As plan after plan for repatriation fell through, he continued to urge Bangladesh and Myanmar, as well as the United Nations, to try harder. He yearned for Myanmar.

Mr. Mohib Ullah stated, “We want to return home, but with dignity and safety.”

Discontent simmered in the refugee camps. Unemployment has risen sharply. The Bangladeshi government has moved forward with a plan to relocate some Rohingya to a cyclone-prone silt island that some regard as unfit for human habitation. To keep the camps in check, security forces unrolled spools of barbed wire. ARSA militants were on the lookout for new recruits. Drug cartels went door-to-door looking for willing runners. Families were concerned that their young daughters or sons would be kidnapped and sold as child brides or servants.

Mr. Mohib Ullah spoke out against ARSA militancy, illegal networks, and Bangladeshi officials’ dehumanizing treatment. For his own safety, he was sometimes forced to hide in safe houses in Cox’s Bazar, the closest city to the camps.

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Mohib Ullah, 46, Dies; Documented Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya