For Immediate Release
In the final weeks before the 2017 Rohingya exodus from Myanmar, a new report indicates that the vast majority of Rohingya settlements suffered violence, often extreme, at the hands of Myanmar security forces and civilians. As part of a large-scale and unique research effort to determine the scope, scale, and pattern of these attacks, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) surveyed leaders from 604 Rohingya hamlets in Myanmar’s Rakhine state encompassing more than 916,000 people, conducted qualitative interviews, and produced forensic evaluations of more than 85 survivors. PHR’s findings clearly demonstrate that more robust measures must be taken to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against the Rohingya.
“PHR’s research points to a widespread and systematic pattern of targeted violence against civilians, including rapes and killings of women, men, and children – violations that must be investigated as crimes against humanity,” said Dr. Homer Venters, director of programs at PHR.
More than 88 percent of the Rohingya leaders surveyed by PHR reported incidents of violence directly perpetrated against their hamlets between June and September 2017, which led to a vast array of human rights violations. Some 91 percent of the leaders who reported violence said that villagers had been subjected to blunt force trauma such as beatings, hitting, kicking, punches, or biting, or penetrating injuries using weapons such as machetes, knives, and sticks. These leaders also reported that villagers were shot (55 percent) and that rape and sexual assault (28 percent) and gang rape (nine percent) took place during this period.
PHR is releasing its findings in support of this week’s report by the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar, which states that the country’s top military generals should be investigated and prosecuted for crimes against humanity and for genocide in Rakhine state. “PHR’s research fully supports the findings of the FFM and echoes the call for the UN Security Council to refer the situation of the Rohingya to the International Criminal Court or create an ad hoc tribunal,” added Venters.
PHR’s findings were also submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, which will debate the FFM’s findings and recommendations to address accountability around the Rohingya crisis at its upcoming session in September.
“Each forensic examination carried out by PHR’s team of doctors was consistent with the Rohingya survivor’s testimony of the violence they had suffered,” said Venters. “The village of Chut Pyin, where we carried out an in-depth study, is an emblematic case of how the violence unfolded: Myanmar security forces and Rakhine Buddhist civilians unleashed a brutal attack that destroyed the Rohingya section of Chut Pyin and killed or abducted 400 men, women, and children.
“Our findings and the evidence presented by the Fact-Finding Mission and other credible human rights organizations are clear,” said Venters. “The Rohingya crisis demands an independent, impartial, and effective mechanism that can collect, preserve, and analyze evidence for criminal investigations. This will require a sufficient mandate and resources to tackle this pressing human rights challenge. Those responsible for this unconscionable campaign of violence against the Rohingya must be brought to justice.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.