Atlanta protesters: Stop violence targeting Muslim minority in Myanmar

Scores of demonstrators marched around the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta Saturday, calling for an end to the deadly violence targeting the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority that is being driven out of its predominantly Buddhist homeland of Myanmar.

Calling themselves the Burmese Rohingya Residents of Clarkston, the protesters urged the United Nations to dispatch a peacekeeping force to Myanmar. Many Rohingya have been tortured, raped or killed and their homes and mosques have been destroyed amid a government security operation triggered by armed attacks on border posts in October, according to the UN.

The Myanmar government regards its estimated 1.3 million Rohingya as interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh and blocks them from obtaining citizenship. Tens of thousands have been confined to internment camps. Many others have fled on smugglers' boats, braving perilous voyages to Malaysia and Thailand.

Since 2012, 3,744 refugees from Myanmar have been resettled in Georgia, federal records show. It’s unknown precisely how many of them are Rohingya. But Hamid Mohamed Hussain, a refugee from Myanmar who helped organize Saturday’s protest, estimated there are now about 200 living in the Atlanta area.

As SEC Championship Game fans visiting from Alabama and Florida looked on, Hussain’s fellow demonstrators marched up and down the sidewalks around the CNN Center, chanting “Stop killing Rohingya!” and “Stop genocide right now!”

“We really need help,” Hussain said, “including from the international community and the United Nations to immediately stop these mass killings and arbitrary arrests.”