Donor countries, including the United States, have supported organizations that provide essential humanitarian services to people along Burma’s borders. Border areas have long been neglected by medical and development programs run by the Burmese government, and this international assistance has helped countless people access medical care and food. Some political reforms have increased opportunities for international donors to directly fund civil society groups within Burma.
I believe the vast majority of us became medical professionals for the right reason—we wanted to follow Hippocrates’ admonition “to cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.” As a person deeply committed to human rights, I deplore the violence that grips Syria. I mourn the thousands who have died. as a doctor, I must also specifically address the deliberate attacks waged by government forces on medical professionals and patients.
Earlier this month, PHR reported on the issue of “false positives”; civilians who were kidnapped and executed by Colombian military forces with the intent of identifying them as either members of the FARC guerrilla movement or other illegal armed groups. Specifically, we focused on the case of Mr. Fair Bernal Leonardo Porras, a 26-year old builder who was forcibly disappeared from a rural town in northern Colombia. Since that time, the judicial process has continued to move forward.
Eighteen years after the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, we are still engaging in illegal and immoral practices all over the world.
Reasonable people can disagree about how to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. But local, state, and even federal law enforcement agents who stake out migrant worker health clinics and arrest US citizens for helping undocumented immigrants access medical services call to mind dark eras in history when governments denied marginalized groups even the most basic human rights.