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.
Latest Wave of Killings and Arrests in Burma Must be Investigated (January 23, 2014)
PHR has expressed concern over reports of mass killings and arrests of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, and called on the Burmese authorities to urgently investigate the incidents and hold all those responsible accountable for these crimes.
PHR Submits Statement on Syria’s Refugee Crisis to Senate Committee (January 7, 2014)
The United States should immediately convene a humanitarian summit with Russia and other nations in order to improve humanitarian aid in Syria; take steps to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States; and provide funding to address their health and other needs.
On Human Rights Day, PHR Highlights Priorities for the Administration (December 10, 2013)
On Human Rights Day, PHR highlighted the need for the U.S. government to address several pressing issues in order to protect fundamental freedoms and promote the United States’ position as a beacon for human rights.
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.
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The Unsung Heroes of Syria (April 16, 2014)
Photos and stories of doctors working in conflict and under other forms of duress are compelling for many reasons. Their bravery and commitment to their patients is admirable, and attacks against those caring for others are unjustifiable in any conflict.
Physician Accounts from the Front Lines of the Syrian Conflict (April 8, 2014)
My recent experiences in training Syrian physicians in a border community opened my eyes to levels of courage and commitment I have never seen in my 30 years of practice and international work.
The Rwandan Genocide: An Indelible Stain (April 7, 2014)
PHR's director of international policy and partnerships/senior advisor, Susannah Sirkin, discusses the Rwandan genocide 20 years later, highlighting that "never again" has not been adhered to. Conflicts in Syria, Sudan, and the Central African Republic continue, and the world is incapable of an effective response.
Sometimes Laughter is the Only Medicine (March 26, 2014)
The resilient spirit of the Syrian people is nowhere more evident than in the group of doctors and lawyers I recently spent an evening with in the Middle East. Their capacity to find joy in life, even during this horrific conflict, is remarkable.
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Syria's Medical Community Under Assault (March 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.
An Appeal to President Putin and the Russian Government (February 2014)
As the Olympic Games begin in Sochi, 47 signatories, including PHR broad 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.
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.
Statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis (January 2014)
PHR submitted a statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis to a Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.
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