Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today denounced the refusal by the Myanmar leadership to accept responsibility for its part in the brutal and systematic killing and displacement of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. The following statement is attributable to PHR’s director of programs, Homer Venters, MD, and is in reaction to comments made by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi today at the World Economic Forum:
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s comments today, defending the military’s violent crackdown in August 2017, on the Rohingya population of Rakhine state, calling it an attempt to ensure ‘rule of law’ directly contradict the findings of an independent United Nations investigation which stated that top commanders in the Myanmar military should face prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“We, at Physicians for Human Rights, have sent teams of independent medical experts to Bangladesh on four different occasions since October 2017, and have conducted our own independent forensic investigations and epidemiological surveys into what took place in Myanmar in August of that year. We found that widespread and systematic human rights violations were committed, which forced at least 720,000 Rohingya to flee their homes in Myanmar and seek refuge in Bangladesh. Countless murders took place. Torture, rape, sexual violence and enforced disappearances all happened with impunity. These atrocities must be investigated and prosecuted as crimes against humanity.
“It is long overdue for the Myanmar government, and Suu Kyi as its leader, to finally acknowledge the grave and brutal events that took place in Rakhine state. It must take responsibility for its part in the bloodshed, and put measures in place to ensure the security of all its people, including the Rohingya. For Suu Kyi to say that the situation ‘could have been handled better’ or to describe what happened in August 2017 as anything other than a calculated and systematic attack campaign, is nothing but dishonest.”
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.