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PHR's Epidemiological Research on Burma Featured in PLoS Medicine

Research documents possible crimes against humanity by Burmese military

For Immediate Release

Cambridge,Mass. –February 8, 2011 – Today’s issue of PLoS Medicine features a peer-reviewed article by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)on the health impacts of human rights violations in Chin State, Burma. Thepopulation-based survey provides the first quantitative data on the humanrights violations suffered by the people of Chin State.

Thedata included in the article shows that in the 12-month reporting periodgovernment authorities may have:

  • Killed an estimated 1,008 household members
  • Tortured 3,829 individuals
  • Raped 2,821 adults and children
  • Imprisoned 5,945 persons
  • Disappeared 4,836 persons
  • Persecuted 14,207 households for their ethnicity or religion

"By using scientific methodsto document human rights violations, we were able to shed light on thesuffering of the people of Chin State in a way that has never been done before,”said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director at PHR and author of the article. "Ourfindings show extraordinary levels of state and military violence againstcivilian populations, and many of the violations may constitute crimes againsthumanity and warrant the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the UnitedNations.”

OnJanuary 19, PHR released findings from the first population-based survey todocument human rights violations in all nine townships of Chin State. Thereport, Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma’s Chin State, reveals that at least eight of the violations surveyed fall withinthe purview of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and may constitute crimesagainst humanity.

Since1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around theworld, including Afghanistan, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, theformer Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe:

  • 1988 – First to document Iraq’suse of chemical weapons against Kurds
  • 1996 – Exhumed mass graves inthe Balkans
  • 1996 – Produced criticalforensic evidence of genocide in Rwanda
  • 1997 – Shared the Nobel PeacePrize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 – Warned of health andhuman rights catastrophe prior to the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 – Documented and analyzedthe genocide in Darfur
  • 2005 – Detailed the story oftortured detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay
  • 2010 – Showedhow CIA medical personnel sought to "improve" waterboarding and otherinterrogation techniques that amount to torture

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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