Rohingya families' escape to the safety of New Zealand

Rohingyas who fled Myanmar 20 years ago share their thoughts about friends and family facing persecution back home.

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    After escaping from Myanmar 20 years ago, Rohingyan Muslim Shah Alam Ali and his brother worked in Thailand and Malaysia before being granted residency in New Zealand.

    They say that the people they left behind are never far from their thoughts.

    "It's like they are living in an open space prison," Ali told Al Jazeera. "They have no rights to go out. They have no rights to study."

    He says that if they had stayed in their hometown of Sittwe, in Myanmar's Rakhine State, they would likely be with four of their brothers and sisters in camps.

    Since 2012, more than 100,000 people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, have been forced from their houses because of attacks led by Buddhists, and are unable to return.

    Cameron Hudson of the US Memorial Holocaust Museum told Al Jazeera that inherent racism and xenophobia now exists within a cross-section of Burmese society.

    Earlier this month, researchers from the museum travelled to the country and found what they termed early warning signs of genocide.

    Others disagree with the use of the term genocide, but there is no doubt in the minds of Shah Alam Ali, his friends and family that those still in Myanmar are in danger.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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