Backlash against Rohingya group in Bangladesh amid surge in crimes

By Azad Majumder

Dhaka, Oct 5 (EFE).- The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and other Rohingya militant groups are facing a growing backlash in Bangladesh’s camps due to suspected links to a rising number of crimes, including two murders this week.

On Wednesday, at least two people were killed in separate incidents in the Rohingya camps, believed to be the result of rivalry between ARSA and the newly emerged Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO).

The deceased were an ARSA commander and an RSO militants, police officer Amir Jafar, who is responsible for the security of Rohingya camps, told EFE.

Bangladesh had previously denied the presence of Rohingya militants among the refugees living in crowded camps in the country.

However, ARSA has already been linked to the 2021 murder of Mohibullah, the chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, and the killing of a Bangladesh Air Force officer on Nov.14 last year.

Mohibullah’s family has accused ARSA of his murder, and Bangladeshi police have charged 29 individuals, most of whom are associated with the group.

Bangladesh authorities have launched a crackdown on the group after suspicions arose regarding their involvement in the killing of the BAF officer.

The country’s elite security force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), has said it arrested at least 60 group members since January this year, including several commanders.

The most recent arrest was that of Mohammad Ershad on Monday at the Kutupalang Rohingya camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.

Lieutenant Colonel Shazzad Hassain, the regional commander of the RAB, confirmed to EFE that Ershad was one of the key suspects in the BAF officer’s killing.

“He was the personal secretary and bodyguard of the ARSA commander-in-chief, Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi, and was the group’s financial coordinator. He used to receive money for the group’s Middle East-based donors,” Hassain said.

He said they arrested another top ARSA commander, Karimullah Musa, also involved in the killing of the BAF officer.

In 2017, ARSA allegedly carried out a series of attacks against security forces in Myanmar’s southern Rakhine province, leading to a brutal retaliatory campaign by the army that resulted in around 774,000 Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh, a number that has since increased to nearly a million.

Bangladesh authorities have reported that ARSA is facing challenges from rival Rohingya groups in Bangladesh camps.

According to Jafar, the security in charge, ARSA members are now active in all camps

“They have their leaders, activists, and supporters in the camps. In roadside shops, among the volunteers, they also have their people. We regularly conduct operations, arrest people, and recover arms.”

Human Rights Watch reported in July the deaths of at least 48 Rohingya meberss in the first half of 2023, mainly at the hands of armed gangs in the camps, surpassing the 40 deaths recorded in 2022.

According to the Bangladeshi defense ministry, at least 11 armed groups are active within the camps.

Rights activists said that ordinary Rohingyas are the worst victims of such violence.

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