By Sam Colvett
In Camp 13 for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, two Rohingya leaders known as Majhi were killed last Saturday, October 15th. Police spokesman Faruk Ahmed stated that “more than a dozen Rohingya miscreants hacked Maulvi Mohammad Yunus, 38, who is the head majhi of Camp 13. They also killed Mohammad Anwar, 38, another majhi. Yunus died immediately and Anwar died at a hospital.”
These killings come at a time when civilian refugee leaders have been increasingly targeted due to their impediment of gang turf wars. Gangs in the area compete for the sale of “yaba,” a methamphetamine pill. The BBC reports that gangs have utilized refugees as mules at times to ship this drug illegally into Bangladesh. When Rohingya leaders have tried to intervene in the situation, they too have been targeted.
The police chief of Cox Bazar states that “in the last three months alone at least 14 Rohingyas were murdered in the camps. The number of murders in the camp has increased compared to last year.”
A senior official, speaking anonymously, indicates that these killings were orchestrated by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group that was charged for the murder of top Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah in September last year. A nephew of one of those killed claims that “ARSA killed my uncle last night. My uncle used to tell them not to deal in drugs. He would supervise voluntarily patrolling in the camps. They killed my uncle.”
Should these killings be orchestrated by ARSA, they would indicate that “internal clashes in Myanmar are impacting the security in the camps,” as the anonymous senior officer claims.
The Rohingya that have fled are already in a vulnerable situation, with more than 773,000 Rohingya having fled to Cox Bazar, the largest refugee camp for the Rohingya in Bangladesh, over the last few years. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that “the root causes of their plight in Myanmar have not been addressed and their future is yet uncertain.”
In this context, targeted killings will certainly exacerbate their already deep vulnerabilities.