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.
PHR Calls for Unfettered Access for Humanitarian Assistance in Syria (November 26, 2013)
PHR is calling on the U.S. government to immediately enter into high-level negotiations with the Russian government to ensure unfettered access in Syria for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other U.N. and humanitarian organizations that urgently need to provide vital services and supplies.
Resolution to End Persecution of the Rohingya in Burma Introduced (November 19, 2013)
PHR welcomed the introduction of a resolution that aims to end discrimination against the Rohingya, a minority group in Burma (officially the Union of Myanmar) that is one of the world’s most persecuted ethnic groups.
PHR’s Dr. Holly Atkinson to Discuss Persecution of Rohingya and Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma on Monday (October 29, 2013)
Dr. Holly Atkinson, volunteer medical advisor and past president of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), will speak Monday at a panel event, “Our Walls Bear Witness: The Plight of Burma’s Rohingya.”
PHR Comments on Nobel Peace Prize Announcement (October 11, 2013)
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has a long history documenting and providing expertise on chemical weapons, today congratulated the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for being selected for the Nobel Peace Prize.
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Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht: Lessons for Early Atrocity Prevention in Burma (November 9, 2013)
November 9, 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or “crystal night.” On this day in 1938, Nazis in Germany staged state-sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots that demolished windows of Jewish shops & burned down synagogues, hospitals, & cultural institutions.
Polio and Starvation - Latest Indicators of Humanitarian Crisis in Syria (November 8, 2013)
The health crisis in Syria has reached alarming proportions, threatening not only the Syrian population, but also its neighbors, and requires an immediate international response.
The Plight of Burma’s Rohingya (November 7, 2013)
On November 3, 2013, a boat carrying at least 70 Rohingya men, women, and children sank off of the coast of Burma. The boat was allegedly headed for Malaysia, where these displaced Rohingyas sought safety from the ongoing persecution and violence in Burma.
Burma’s Rohingya Need Protection from Persecution (November 1, 2013)
Rakhine state, on the western coast of Burma, is among the most dangerous places in the world to be a Muslim. Just over a year ago, simmering tensions and small-scale clashes erupted into mass violence between Buddhist Rakhines and Muslim Rohingya, a minority of about 800,000 whose roots in Burma are several centuries old.
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Contempt for Freedom (September 2013)
In this report, PHR documents the Turkish government's unnecessary and excessive use of force and attacks on medical personnel in response to the peaceful protests that began in May 2013.
Nerve Agent Exposure and Collection of Forensic Evidence (August 2013)
PHR has compiled this information packet on chemical weapons evidence collection to provide an overview of how professional investigators may go about documenting evidence of chemical warfare agents use and exposure. Evidence collection of the use of such weapons requires highly specialized procedures and equipment.
Patterns of Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma (August 2013)
In this report, PHR documents how persecution of and violence against the Rohingya in Burma has spread to other Muslim communities throughout the country. PHR conducted eight separate investigations in Burma and the surrounding region between 2004 and 2013.
Massacre in Central Burma (May 2013)
Anti-Muslim violence swept through central Burma in spring 2013, reportedly sparked by an argument at a gold shop and the killing of a Buddhist monk in Meiktila, Mandalay. Homes, mosques, and madrassas were destroyed, and over 100 people lost their lives. This report is the result of an investigation by a PHR team, undertaken shortly after the violence occurred.
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