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.
Syria’s Neighbors Must Let Doctors Practice (February 2, 2016)
PHR is calling on world leaders to prioritize Syria’s shattered health system by creating mechanisms for thousands of displaced medical professionals to temporarily practice in neighboring countries. PHR’s call comes in light of this week’s conference of donor governments meeting in London to discuss response to the Syrian crisis.
Governors Who Say They Will Close Doors on Syrian Refugees Pander to Fear and Ignorance (November 16, 2015)
PHR is appalled by the declarations of the U.S. governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, that they will not allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their states.
Russian Warplanes Strike Medical Facilities in Syria (October 7, 2015)
PHR has confirmed that Russian airstrikes damaged three medical facilities in Syria in two days, exacerbating an already dire situation for civilians living in areas where the health system has been systematically attacked by the Syrian government.
The Myanmar government violated international laws when displacing families as part of a dam project along the Paunglaung River in southern Shan state.
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Failed Peace Talks Are a Death Sentence for Syrians (January 28, 2016)
Political wrangling in the lead up to Friday's U.N.-brokered peace talks has dramatically lowered expectations. But continued inaction at the diplomatic level, writes Elise Baker of PHR, is a "death sentence" for many Syrians trapped in besieged or remote areas across the country
Protecting Syria's civilians: another discarded New Year's resolution? (January 11, 2016)
It's been just three weeks since the UN Security Council adopted its latest resolution on the conflict in Syria, re-authorizing cross-border delivery routes for humanitarian aid and promising - once again - to take "further measures" if the parties to the conflict do not comply with international humanitarian law.
A New Low: Stealing Family Heirlooms in Exchange for Protection (December 16, 2015)
The refugee crisis in Europe has shown the very real limits to the social coherence and solidarity that seemed to form the basis for the European Union until now. But even within the climate of hostility against asylum seekers in Europe, Denmark stands apart as one of the worst aggressors.
A Grave on the Road to Justice in Rwanda (December 11, 2015)
As the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) wraps up its dockets in Arusha, Tanzania on December 14 and hands over cases to other processes, we reflect on landmark “firsts” accomplished by the tribunal: the first international prosecution for the crime of genocide, and the first conviction for rape and sexual violence as forms of genocide.
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Let Syria’s Health Professionals Work (February 2016)
In this paper, PHR provides recommendations to donor governments that would demonstrate their commitment to the health and well-being of the Syrian people, to the principles of mutual recognition of health professional qualifications, and to core commitments by the global community to sustainable development in the region.
Forced Displacements and Destroyed Lives around Upper Paunglaung Dam in Shan State, Myanmar (October 2015)
In this report, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) builds on its previous research on land confiscations in Myanmar by using an epidemiological survey tool to assess the human rights, livelihood, and health impacts on communities displaced by the reservoir created by Paunglaung dam in southern Shan state.
International NGOs Urge Ban Ki-moon to Negotiate Aid Access to Rakhine State, Myanmar (Burma) (May 2015)
Twenty-six international humanitarian aid and advocacy organizations have written to the United Nations Secretary-General, urging him to give his “personal attention” to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar (Burma) and to take “a personal lead” in negotiating for humanitarian access to all areas of Rakhine State.
The Crisis in Syria Turns Four (March 2015)
Ahead of the four-year anniversary of the crisis in Syria, Physicians for Human Rights and partner organizations call on permanent members of the UN Security Council to refrain from using their veto power when confronted with a crisis in which civilians are at impending risk of atrocity crimes.
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