I just returned from Turkey where I was proudly representing Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in a show of solidarity for human rights leaders who were standing trial on trumped-up terrorism charges in Istanbul.
The next day – forever ago, it now seems – I was watching the election results unfold early in the morning. By 9:30 a.m., the news had announced Donald Trump the winner of the U.S. election.
It was hard not to be home to take in the news. I wished I were in New York with family and friends.
At the same time, I truly believe our work is more important than ever. For thirty years, we at PHR have used the voice of science and medicine to prevent human rights abuses globally, calling out violations no matter what political party or politician is in power. And we’ll continue to do that work without fear and without favor.
While there is no playbook for a President-elect Trump, we have already put together an assessment of where we believe PHR will be most needed in the months and years ahead.
To start, we know torture, ill treatment, and mental abuse around the world is on the rise – and Trump has threatened to reinstate torture as U.S. policy. So we see the need for increased trainings of medical professionals because we are committed to holding torturers accountable.
Trump has also threatened to deport millions, driving apart families and preventing those fleeing persecution from seeking refuge in the United States. Now more than ever, our asylum program that advocates for survivors of torture and sexual violence is crucial.
The President-elect has also outlined a strategy for sending more detainees to Guantánamo, unraveling the steady albeit slow progress made to ultimately shutter the prison under the Obama Administration. We’ll continue to call for the facility’s closure and defend the international laws and norms that outlaw indefinite detention.
When I was in Turkey, I was repeatedly told that the U.S. election will have a global effect, and I was encouraged to gear up for the inevitable challenges ahead – challenges that would impact not only those of us in the United States but everyone, everywhere.
I am deeply worried about what a Trump presidency will mean for human rights, peace, and the safety and security of others around the world. If ever there were a time for an evidence-based human rights organization, it is now. Our unique work in the United States and abroad will, sadly, be in high demand and we’re mobilizing for the long fight ahead.
Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images