For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (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. Though PHR cannot independently verify this claim, and there are serious questions regarding its authenticity, the organization remains gravely concerned for the safety of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh following brutal violence in Myanmar.
PHR reiterates its calls for a thorough, independent investigation into the crimes allegedly perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the country’s Rohingya population. Without full transparency and accountability, any prospect of repatriation poses further risks to the Rohingya’s safety.
PHR’s director of programs, Dr. Homer Venters, who has documented evidence of physical and sexual violence against the Rohingya, says conditions in the region do not offer safe passage for repatriation nor guarantees of security and rights for those who return.
“We’re talking about nearly 700,000 Rohingya who have been subjected to brutal attacks and forced into flight. Our forensic evaluations have found that many men, women, and children sustained gunshots, stab wounds, burns, and other intentional injuries. There have also been reports of mass rape. Without accountability and guarantees of full rights and protection for those who return, and complete transparency of any repatriation process to ensure that it is completely voluntary, any serious chance for a safe and dignified return is virtually impossible, and the prospect for any long-lasting peace is slim. Furthermore, any Rohingya who fears persecution on return to Myanmar must be afforded the right to seek asylum in Bangladesh, or elsewhere, consistent with international law.
“We once again call on the government of Myanmar to allow for a full, impartial investigation by international bodies into the campaign of violence unleashed on the Rohingya. The truth needs to be established and the perpetrators need to be held to account.”
Read more about PHR’s work on the Rohingya crisis.
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.