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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.

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.

Myanmar Illegally Displaced Families, Devastating Their Health and Livelihoods (October 5, 2015)

The Myanmar government violated international laws when displacing families as part of a dam project along the Paunglaung River in southern Shan state.

France Opens Investigation into Torture in Syria (October 1, 2015)

PHR today welcomed an announcement that France has opened the world’s first criminal inquiry into torture in Syria.

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‘Someone banged on my door’: 7 years after election rapes, justice still missing for Kenya survivors (October 26, 2015)

Following the elections in late 2007, Kenya endured significant atrocities, including murder, ethnic cleansing, and rape... years after that violent crisis, women are still seeking justice.

It’s About Civilian Protection (October 7, 2015)

Even in a world inured to violence, the U.S. airstrike on a Doctors without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, which killed both staff and patients, was shocking.

Surviving the War Only to Die at Sea (September 23, 2015)

In the three weeks since Aylan’s photo circulated around the world, little has changed for refugees seeking safe passage from conflict.

The International Community Continues to Be Unmoved by Syria (August 20, 2015)

Will the civilian death toll during recent attacks on Douma motivate the world to action in Syria?

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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.

Syria's Medical Community Under Assault (February 2015)

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.

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