Gunmen murder Rohingya teacher and student in Bangladesh

The victims’ families believe that the RSO, an armed group known for abducting young Rohingya men from the camps to fight against the Arakan Army, is responsible for the killings

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – Gunmen in Bangladesh have killed a teacher and a student in a Rohingya refugee camp for refusing to return to Myanmar to fight, their parents said Thursday.

Hundreds of Rohingya boys and young men have been seized from refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they had sought safety after Myanmar’s military drove some 750,000 members of the persecuted minority out of the country in 2017.

Now Rohingya militants are making common cause with the same Myanmar military that drove their fellow Muslims into exile in order to face a common enemy in another Myanmar ethnic armed organisation, the Arakan Army (AA).

The father of the slain student said the gunmen were the “name of terror” in the camp, accusing Rohingya fighters of trying to abduct his son as part of their drive to battle the AA. 

Police said the two men, student Nur Absar, 22, and teacher Nur Faisal, 21, were killed by “unknown assailants” in Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.

“One died on the spot, another died in hospital,” said Arefin Jewel, a police spokesman in Kutupalong.  “We are investigating whether it is a case of forced recruitment”.

But Faisal’s father blamed militia gunmen from the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO).

“The RSO went to my son’s school and wanted to recruit him,” Zakir Ahmed, 45, told AFP.  “My son refused.”

Ahmed said his son had also been working as a community guard to stop the gunmen who prowled the camps to press-gang youths.

“He was also working as a night guard to save other young Rohingya from forced recruitment by armed groups,” he said. “RSO gunmen shot them. RSO killed my son.”

Aman Ullah, 40, the father of student Nur Absar, also blamed the RSO.

“They tried to recruit him,” Ullah said. “They have become the name of terror here”.

The UN children’s fund (UNICEF) said it was “appalled” by the attack.

“UNICEF strongly condemns any attack against schools… which must always be a safe space for children, and for the staff delivering this essential service,” country chief Sheldon Yett said.

The Rohingya fighters are battling alongside Myanmar’s regular army in Rakhine State.

They are fighting forces including the AA, which says it wants greater autonomy for the ethnic Rakhine population in the state, which is also home to around 600,000 Rohingya.

This month the AA took control of Buthidaung, a Rohingya-majority town not far from Bangladesh.

Several Rohingya diaspora groups claimed that fighters forced Rohingya to flee, then looted and burned their homes—claims the AA called “propaganda”.

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