ResourcesPress Release

PHR Documents Systematic Patterns of Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma

New Report Shows Government’s Failure to Protect Muslims From Widespread Attacks

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today released a report documenting the recent wave of violence against Muslims throughout Burma, whose government has created a culture of impunity for the violators and has failed to protect the Muslim minority.

The report details a number of serious human rights violations that have taken place over the last two years, which have resulted in the displacement of nearly 250,000 people and the destruction of more than 10,000 homes, scores of mosques, and a dozen monasteries. It documents the government’s failure to address human rights violations, points to police complicity in some cases, and identifies patterns emerging from the violent episodes.

“The deadly wave of violence in Burma has spread beyond the Rohingya, devastating Muslim communities throughout the country,” said Bill Davis, one of the report authors and a PHR Burma researcher. “Pro-democracy leaders in Burma and beyond must unequivocally denounce this kind of rampant violence and discrimination. A successful transition to democracy can only occur if the human rights of all people are embraced, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.”

Today’s report comes at a time the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, is conducting an official visit in Burma. He is expected to present his preliminary observations tomorrow.

PHR’s report, “Patterns of Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma: A Call for Accountability and Prevention,” shows how retaliatory attacks often end up targeting entire communities, and documents multiple instances where police and/or the army attacked Rohingyas and other Muslims or watched as they were attacked, instead of protecting them. The report also provides recommendations to stop the violence, including calling on the government of Burma to investigate and prosecute members of the police who committed these violations, allow humanitarian organizations access to help those in need, and institute judicial and legal reforms needed to end pervasive discrimination against the Rohingya and other minorities.

“The Burmese government has not only failed to protect vulnerable groups, but has created a dangerous culture of impunity that fuels human rights violations,” said Dr. Holly Atkinson, one of the report authors and a PHR volunteer medical advisor. “These horrific attacks can only be stopped if there is a thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible, and appropriate steps are taken to protect vulnerable and marginalized groups.”

The findings in the report are based on field research conducted in March, April, and May, during which time PHR interviewed 71 people in 18 locations across Rakhine State, Mandalay Division, and in Rangoon city. PHR has conducted eight investigations in Burma and the surrounding region between 2004 and 2013, most recently documenting a massacre that took place in the central Burmese town of Meiktila in March.

*Please note that this press release has been updated to more accurately reflect information on the number of internally displaced persons in Burma.

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.

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