Mass atrocities — including certain war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — are human rights violations directed against a population. PHR has prepared evidence of war crimes and testified at various international bodies, including tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Based on our investigations, we are working to prevent, stop, and provide accountability for mass atrocities in the following areas.
When Libyans first took to the streets to protest Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s autocratic rule in February 2011, Qaddafi's response was quick and brutal: attack protesters and target civilians in a deliberate campaign to quash dissent across the country. PHR documented some of the conflict's most severe human rights violations that must be addressed as a new civilian government emerges.
PHR’s research in Burma’s Chin State revealed extraordinary levels of state and military violence against civilian populations. The abuses included forced labor, religious persecution, beatings, killing, disappearances, torture, rape, and widespread pillaging.
Stateless refugees from Burma face death from starvation and disease in makeshift camps because the government of Bangladesh denies them access to humanitarian aid. PHR has called for a comprehensive regional response to the Bangladesh government's failure to protect and care for the refugees, as well as to the human rights violations in Burma that have caused some 300,000 Muslim minority Rohingya to flee that country.
As many as 2,000 Taliban prisoners are believed to have been killed by US-allied Afghan troops and buried in a mass grave in the northern desert of Dasht-e-Leili. PHR investigators discovered the mass grave in 2002. Since then, we have called for a full investigation of the alleged massacre.
In Afghanistan, over 100 mass grave sites allegedly contain many of Afghanistan’s estimated 1.5 million dead. PHR is helping to develop local forensic capabilities so the people of Afghanistan can address past abuses and begin the process of transitional justice, turning from violence to peace.
In 2008, PHR witnessed the utter collapse of Zimbabwe's health system, resulting in the death of some 4,000 from cholera. Today, Zimbabwe remains a country battered and torn by political strife, infrastructure collapse, and grave human rights abuses. PHR continues to call for the correction of the health and human rights situation in the country.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Following our three investigations into the crisis, PHR has mobilized health professionals, students, and members of the general public to press for urgently needed security in Darfur and compensation and restitution for survivors.
As U.S.-Afghanistan Sign Troop Deal, CIA-Backed Warlord Behind Massacre of 2,000 POWs Sworn-In as VP (Democracy Now, September 30, 2014)
Afghanistan has inaugurated its first new president in a decade, swearing in Ashraf Ghani to head a power-sharing government. Joining him on stage Monday was Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s new vice president. Dostum is one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords, once described by Ghani himself as a "known killer." Dostum’s rise to the vice presidency comes despite his involvement in a 2001 massacre that killed up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war.
Physicians for Human Rights Comments on Discriminatory Plan for the Rohingya (September 30, 2014)
PHR today criticized a plan that would force many Rohingya to claim Bangladeshi origin as part of a strategy by the government of Burma to further isolate the minority group. Those who refuse to renounce their identity are reportedly being arrested, tortured, or sent to camps.
Doctors Reporting Injuries from U.S.-Led Air Strikes in Syria (September 25, 2014)
A doctor at one hospital near Idlib, in northern Syria, reported that his hospital treated 40 wounded patients over three hours as a result of the U.S.-led air strikes early Wednesday morning.
Secretary Kerry Must Press Burmese Government to Uphold Human Rights (August 5, 2014)
Secretary Kerry must press the Burmese government to stop the violence against ethnic minorities, investigate past attacks, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
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Let’s Talk About Sexual Violence (October 2, 2014)
When studying in Jordan last fall, I was stunned by the silence around sexual violence experienced by women in Syrian refugee camps. In Arab communities, where social stigma and family honor carry huge weight, consequences of sexual violence extend far beyond scarring psychological trauma to fear of alienation and even honor killing.
Syria’s Forgotten Civilians (September 26, 2014)
As atrocities committed by the self-declared Islamic State (IS), also called ISIS or ISIL, dominate media headlines, we must not forget the civilians who have been suffering since long before IS gained a stronghold in parts of Syria and Iraq.
Justice Must Precede Development (September 25, 2014)
While investment in Burma’s infrastructure is welcome, support for development without also addressing accountability and reconciliation perpetuates impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations.
What Did President Obama Leave Out of His Speech on the Islamic State? (September 12, 2014)
On the same turf that IS operates other actors are committing mass atrocities, while enjoying full impunity.
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Syria's Medical Community Under Assault (October 2014)
This fact sheet illustrates the deliberate targeting and destruction of medical facilities by government and opposition forces, loss of medical personnel, and resulting health consequences in Syria.
Physicians for Human Rights and partner NGOs welcome the United Nations Security Council resolution, which directly authorizes UN agencies and their implementing partners to deliver aid across Syria’s borders and conflict lines.
As Olympic Games Open in Sochi, 37 Humanitarian, Human Rights, and Peace Organizations Call for UNSC Resolution to Open Syria to Aid (February 2014)
As the world unites to celebrate the spirit of the Olympic Games, PHR and 36 other organizations call on all members of the Security Council to support a binding resolution demanding all parties to the conflict guarantee safe, full and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to populations in need in all areas of Syria.
An Appeal to President Putin and the Russian Government (February 2014)
As the Olympic Games begin in Sochi, 47 signatories, including PHR board member, Justice Richard J. Goldstone, callon President Vladimir Putin of Russia to lead efforts to agree on a UN Security Council humanitarian resolution that calls for Syria’s parties to the conflict to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and open Syria’s conflict lines and borders to ensure aid reaches all those in need, including through local ceasefires.
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