Skip to Main Content
Printer Friendly Home > Issues > Mass Atrocities

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.

UN Involvement Essential in Any Potential Rohingya Repatriation (June 6, 2018)

PHR is encouraged following the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the UN Development Programme with the Myanmar government. PHR is hopeful that the agreement will be a successful first step in establishing a framework for cooperation between the parties in order to ensure safe, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, and a lasting and sustainable solution to the oppression and violence suffered by communities living in Rakhine state.

PHR Joins Call for Myanmar Referral to ICC (May 8, 2018)

PHR joins the voices calling on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to carry out an independent, transparent, and swift investigation into atrocities committed against the Rohingya people, in order to prosecute and bring those accountable to justice.

PHR Reiterates Need for Investigation Before Any Repatriation of Rohingya Refugees (April 16, 2018)

PHR is calling for international investigation, oversight, and protection in the wake of Myanmar’s claim that it has repatriated the first Rohingya refugees from neighboring Bangladesh.

Humanitarian Norms Ignored as Syria’s Civilian Health Deliberately Targeted (March 15, 2018)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released an issue brief today highlighting a pattern of targeted attacks on health care throughout war-torn Syria, taking place with impunity and with staggering consequences.

More Crimes Against Humanity in Burma News »
More Genocide in Darfur News »
More Health Crisis in Zimbabwe News »
More Mass Atrocities News »
More Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh News »
More Transitional Justice in Afghanistan News »
More War Crime in Afghanistan News »

“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.

More Crimes Against Humanity in Burma Posts »
More Genocide in Darfur Posts »
More Health Crisis in Zimbabwe Posts »
More Mass Atrocities Posts »
More Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh Posts »
More Transitional Justice in Afghanistan Posts »
More War Crime in Afghanistan Posts »

Beyond Imagination: Seven Years of Conflict in Syria (March 2018)

The seventh anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict brings no sign of the fighting abating. In its latest issue brief, Physicians for Human Rights shows how a pattern of targeted attacks on health care in the war-torn country are generating a lethal context.

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.

More Crimes Against Humanity in Burma Research »
More Genocide in Darfur Research »
More Health Crisis in Zimbabwe Research »
More Mass Atrocities Research »
More Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh Research »
More Transitional Justice in Afghanistan Research »
More War Crime in Afghanistan Research »