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Mass Atrocities

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.

War Crimes in Libya

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.

Crimes Against Humanity in Burma

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.

Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

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.

War Crimes in Afghanistan

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.

Transitional Justice in Afghanistan

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.

Health Crisis in Zimbabwe

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.

Genocide in Darfur

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.

Physicians for Human Rights Condemns Attacks against Civilians in Eastern Ghouta (February 20, 2018)

In response to the ongoing assault against Syrian civilians and health facilities in eastern Ghouta, Susannah Sirkin, Director for International Policy and Partnerships at Physicians for Human Rights, issued the following statement.

Rohingya Repatriation Agreement Fails to Address Accountability and Safety Concerns (January 17, 2018)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today expressed concern over an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled brutal violence in Myanmar.

Physicians for Human Rights welcomes verdict against orchestrator of Srebrenica genocide (November 22, 2017)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today convicted former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. Physicians for Human Rights, which conducted multiple mass grave investigations across the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s for the Tribunal, hailed today’s verdict as a victory for international justice and for the victims of Mladic’s crimes.

Myanmar’s Rohingya Continue to Suffer Systematic Extortion, Abuse (October 12, 2016)

Despite significant advances in Myanmar, minority groups in the Southeast Asian country continue to face systematic and pervasive human rights violations.

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“We’re Seeing the Lucky Ones.” (February 12, 2018)

Children with gunshot wounds, severe burns, traumatic injuries – these are just some of the atrocities PHR’s team of doctors documented on their recent trip to Bangladesh, where nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled to escape a campaign of brutal violence by the Myanmar military. “The thing that really strikes me is that … we’re seeing the lucky ones, the lucky ones who were able to survive,” says PHR’s Dr. Rohini Haar.

The Difference Doctors Make (February 8, 2018)

When a human rights crisis leads to a humanitarian disaster, doctors have a dual role to play. In Bangladesh, PHR doctors and volunteer health professionals worked side by side to document and treat atrocities committed against Rohingya refugees.

Documenting Violence Against the Rohingyas Firsthand: Evidence That Can’t Be Ignored (December 22, 2017)

Military leaders in Myanmar falsely claim they have mounted this brutal attack on civilians, many of them children, because they are “terrorists.” The forensic evidence in these cases tells a vastly different story — the truth.

A Victory for Justice in the Congo (December 19, 2017)

In a stunning victory for justice, a Congolese court has convicted 11 men of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life in prison for the rapes of dozens of little girls over a three-year period in the village of Kavumu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Issue Brief: Attacks on Health in Syria (January 2018)

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 11, 2018, Senators will examine U.S. policy in Syria. PHR’s issue brief highlights the need for a comprehensive U.S. strategy for Syria that prioritizes civilian protection and welfare as attacks on health and human suffering continue unabated.

PHR Joins NGOs in Appeal to the UN Security Council to Act on Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis (December 2017)

In advance of the United Nations Security Council’s December 12 meeting on the situation in Myanmar, we, a global coalition of 81 human rights, faith-based and humanitarian organizations, urgently call on the Council to take immediate action to address the campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity, committed against the ethnic Rohingya population by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine State, as well as the continuing restrictions on humanitarian assistance throughout the state since October 2016.

Where There is Police, There is Persecution (October 2016)

Minorities living in Myanmar have suffered decades of human rights violations at the hands of the government and security forces. This new report found that the Muslim Rohingya face such systematic abuse and denial of rights that they pervade nearly every aspect of daily life.

Update on Syria – April 2016 (April 2016)

Syria’s cessation of hostilities, which came into effect on February 27, was supposed to reduce violence and guarantee delivery of humanitarian aid to desperate populations in need across Syria. The reduction of violence witnessed in the first weeks of the cessation has started to reverse course, and the cessation has largely failed on its promises to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid to the millions of Syrians in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

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