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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.

Secretary Kerry Must Press Burmese Government to Uphold Human Rights (August 5, 2014)

Secretary Kerry must press the Burmese government to stop the violence against ethnic minorities, investigate past attacks, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

PHR Comments on UN Security Council Vote (May 22, 2014)

PHR today criticized Russia and China’s refusal to refer the Syria crisis to the International Criminal Court.

New Map Shows Government Forces Deliberately Attacking Syria’s Medical System (May 14, 2014)

Syrian forces have systematically attacked the health care system in opposition-held areas over the past three years, resulting in the death of more than 460 health professionals and widespread destruction to hospitals and clinics, PHR said today as it launched an interactive map tracking these violations.

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.

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What Did President Obama Leave Out of His Speech on the Islamic State? (September 12, 2014)

On the same turf that IS operates other actors are committing mass atrocities, while enjoying full impunity.

A Time for Truth in Afghanistan (August 19, 2014)

Afghans have endured injustice for decades. Victims languish in an environment where abuses are committed with impunity, fueling resentment and the country’s conflict itself.

The War on Health Care in Syria (May 19, 2014)

Dr. H has treated bombing casualties, chemical weapons survivors, and victims with bullet wounds – all standard cases in his field hospital in one of the opposition-controlled areas of Syria.

Burma’s Policy of Religious Persecution Continues Unabated (May 1, 2014)

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has released its 2014 Annual Report, which highlights state-sponsored violations of religious freedom around the world. To note most severe cases, the report designates eight nations as Countries of Particular Concern, and – for the fifteenth year in a row – Burma is part of this notorious group.

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Syria's Medical Community Under Assault (July 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.

NGOs Welcome Unprecedented Step Towards Increased Aid in Syria (July 2014)

Physicians for Human Rights and partner NGOs welcome the United Nations Security Council resolution, which directly authorizes UN agencies and their implementing partners to deliver aid across Syria’s borders and conflict lines.

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.

An Appeal to President Putin and the Russian Government (February 2014)

As the Olympic Games begin in Sochi, 47 signatories, including PHR board 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.

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