Despite the Burmese government's official denial that it holds political prisoners, many Burmese activists remain imprisoned for their perceived or real involvement in resisting the junta government. While in jail, these prisoners have faced myriad human rights violations including torture and deprivation of healthcare.
PHR welcomes the recent release of two Backpack Health Worker medics who were abducted by the Burma Army in Karen State, Burma in October of last year. The Backpack Health Worker Team is a community-based organization that provides medical care to civilians in war-torn Karen State.
This December marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Convoy of Death.” During Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, 2,000 prisoners who had surrendered to the US and the Afghan Northern Alliance were shot or suffocated to death in sealed truck containers while being transferred by Northern Alliance forces. The dead prisoners – some of who had been tortured - were then buried in a mass grave in a northern Afghanistan desert at Dasht-e-Leili.
Earlier this week, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda was chosen to be the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She will be the second person, and the first African, to hold this position. Bensouda was the likely choice for the position given her professional qualifications, including serving as Deputy Prosecutor to Luis Moreno-Ocampo during his nine-year tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the Court. Given the extent of the ICC’s work in Africa – all seven of the countries with cases before the court are African – the choice of an African prosecutor seems especially appropriate.
Secretary Clinton has an opportunity to call attention to attacks on ethnic groups during her upcoming visit.