Rohingya refugees rebuilding their lives in Chicago

Jan. 24, 2019

Chicago has one of the largest number of Rohingya refugees to have been resettled in the United States.

More than 1,600 Rohingya are based in Chicago, having spent years in Malaysia after fleeing persecution and violence in Myanmar in the 1990s and 2000s.

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Chicago Red Cross Global Citizenship Hero 2018: Nasir Bin Zakaria

May. 08, 2018

Nasir Bin Zakaria was inspired by his personal experience to help fellow refugees. At 14-years-old, Nasir was forced to leave his family and flee from Myanmar. Twenty-three years later, he was granted refugee status and arrived in Chicago.

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Rohingya Refugees

May. 04, 2018

When Aisyah Salamutallah stepped off an airplane onto U.S. soil in October 2016, she was greeted with blast of cold air.

“I really happy,” she recalled. After fleeing discrimination in Burma as a child, then living without legal status in Malaysia for more than 30 years, Salamutallah finally found her home in Chicago.

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Rohingya refugees in Chicago face stress, anxiety after escaping horrors in Myanmar

Dec. 26, 2017

Hasan Korimullah was 8, maybe 9, when he saw his mother hacked to death. The pair had been on a shopping trip near their home in Myanmar when two men jumped out of the bushes with machetes, he said.

Hasan took off running, eventually escaping, while his mother became another casualty of the ongoing violence in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims like the boy’s family.

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Web Extra: Rohingya Find New Life in Chicago

Dec. 11, 2017

As they flee persecution in Southeast Asia, Chicago has become home to the largest population of Rohingya Muslims in the U.S. Paris Schutz has this report.

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Rohingya culture center in West Ridge offers comfort amidst crisis

Nov. 29, 2017

CHICAGO (WLS) — Tragic images from Myanmar are difficult to watch.

They show the plight of the Rohingya people, described by ABC News as a Muslim minority in the country also known as Burma. The Rohingya were stripped of citizenship by Myanmar’s government in 1982, though they’ve lived there for generations.

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North Side cultural center unites Rohingya refugees together

Nov. 28, 2017

Nasir Zakaria is one of hundreds of Rohingya, a stateless Indo-Aryan people from the Rakhine State, Myanmar, who found refuge in Chicago’s North Side. After immigrating to the U.S. from Myanmar in 2013 and settling in Rogers Park, Zakaria said he could not sit idly while his people suffered from horrendous persecution.

Zakaria founded the Rohingya Cultural Center, 2740 W. Devon Ave., in April 2016 with assistance from the Zakat Foundation, a Muslim organization that provides an annual grant to pay rent, utilities and Zakaria’s salary.

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Rohingya who fled Myanmar find refuge in Chicago

Nov. 4, 2017

Muslim Rohingya who escaped deadly violence and persecution in Myanmar have found new homes in the United States.

One of the largest concentrations of Rohingya is in the US city of Chicago. Al Jazeera’s John Hendren reports from Chicago.

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Rohingya Expatriates Push US Lawmakers to Act on Myanmar

Oct. 18, 2017

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Although he hasn’t seen his home country in more than a decade, modern technology has made it easy for Abdul Jabbar Amanullah to stay in regular contact with his family in Myanmar’s remote Rakhine state.

Using email and social media to interact with loved ones has made his life as a refugee now living in Chicago a little easier, even if the latest news coming from his village has been growing increasingly unsettling.

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Refugees Fleeing Ethnic Cleansing in Burma Are About to Get Even Less Help From the US

SEP. 29, 2017

The phone rang, and Nasir Bin Zakaria jolted awake. It was almost 2 a.m. on Tuesday, and the 40-year-old community leader had gone to bed only an hour earlier. The streets outside his apartment in downtown Chicago were quiet. “Hello?”

The men on the line sounded panicked. They had never met Bin Zakaria. They lived on the other side of the world, in a small village in western Burma, where, in the mid-afternoon heat, they were preparing to run for their lives.

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After visiting RCC, Senator Durbin spoke to the Senate floor regarding the Rohingya genocide. He mentioned RCC and even showed a picture Nasir Zakaria, our Director. He, along with Senators, McCain, Cardin, Rubio, Merkley, Young, Feinstein, and Markey introduced the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2017. It calls for the following:

  • State the U.S. policy of calibrated engagement, which supports a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma that respects human rights of all of its people regardless of ethnicity and religion.
  • Authorize humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya, including refugees in Bangladesh, the region and implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission.
  • Instruct Treasury to only vote for international financial assistance projects that do not partner with the Burmese military owned enterprise.
  • Express the Sense of Congress calling on the Burmese government to ensure the right of returnees and to fully implement all of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission.
  • Codify U.S.-Burma military to military cooperation restrictions.
  • Reimpose the U.S. jade and rubies ban and require a report on Burma GSP privileges.
  • Require a report on which individuals should be placed on visa bans and on the SDN list for senior Burmese military officials.
  • Require a report on promoting inclusive and responsible economic growth and development in Burma.
  • Require a report on accountability for ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide in Burma, a feasibility and desirability study of potential transitional justice mechanisms for Burma, and authorize technical assistance for it.


Persecuted Rohingya community find sanctuary and solace at a cultural center in Chicago

Oct. 11, 2016

A dozen primary school-aged children sit around desks taking instruction from their tutors, local college students who volunteer as English language teachers at the Rohingya Culture Center in Chicago.

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Myanmar refugees, including Muslim Rohingya, outpace Syrian arrivals in U.S.

Sept. 20, 2016

The resettlement of refugees from Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria, has been the center of a heated political debate after President Barack Obama last year pledged to resettle at least 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country in the United States.

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Persecuted Rohingya Muslims find rare refuge in Chicago

April. 15, 2016

For the majority of his life, Nasir Bin Zakaria was a citizen of nowhere. He was 14 when he was kidnapped by militants at a bazaar in west Myanmar. “Kalah,” they hissed at him, a racial slur used toward Rohingya — the ethnic Muslim minority residing among the country’s Buddhist majority.

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Chicago Rohingya Organize To Help Their Own

April. 7, 2016

A growing number of Rohingya Muslims, who fled persecution and violence in their native Burma, have made Chicago home.The community has grown over the last several years and this Saturday they’ll open the Rohingya Culture Center.

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