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Secretary Kerry Must Press Burmese Government to Uphold Human Rights

Upcoming Trip Offers Opportunity to Insist on Accountability for Violence against Ethnic Groups

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry must press the Burmese government to stop the violence against ethnic minorities, investigate past attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure that humanitarian assistance is immediately provided to those in need.

Kerry is expected to travel to Burma on August 8 and 9 for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The government of Burma has failed to take action against the violence or to properly investigate and prosecute widespread attacks against the Rohingya and other minority groups.

“This trip presents an opportunity for Secretary Kerry to show that economic considerations do not trump human rights concerns,” said Andrea Gittleman, PHR’s interim director of U.S. policy. “Secretary Kerry must demand that the Burmese government end the discrimination and violence threatening the lives of ethnic groups on a daily basis and stalling democratic progress for the entire country.”

In Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city, police did nothing to prevent Buddhists from attacking Muslims in early July. Another example of deliberate discrimination includes the suspension of the work of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Rakhine State. While the government recently invited the organization back to the region, the suspension left over 750,000 people – mostly Rohingya – without medical care. The former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar stated earlier this year that violence and persecution against minorities in Burma may amount to crimes against humanity.

For over 20 years, PHR has documented human rights violations in Burma, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Targeted attacks in recent years have displaced an estimated 140,000 Rohingya, leaving many of them struggling to survive. PHR’s recent reports on Burma include “Patterns of Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma” and “Massacre in Central 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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