Physicians for Human Rights Statement on Attacks in Beirut, Paris, and the Sinai

The attacks of the last few days in Beirut and Paris that have killed and injured hundreds of people, and the earlier shooting down of a Russian passenger airplane leaving Egypt, were depraved acts of inhumanity Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today. PHR stands in solidarity with families and communities in France, Lebanon, Russia, and elsewhere as they mourn the loss of life and seek to recover from this violence.

It is vitally important that these despicable acts not be used as an excuse to discriminate against the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are desperately seeking a safe haven from violence and persecution in their own countries. Governments must respect the right to seek asylum for Syrians who are fleeing violence by the self-declared Islamic State (IS), also called ISIS or ISIL, as well as egregious attacks on civilians by Bashar al-Assad’s government.

PHR added that in their legitimate efforts to address attacks by ISIS and other perpetrators of violence against civilian populations, governments are obligated to uphold the fundamental principles of human rights and humanitarian law. In the current atmosphere of shock and fear, leaders must act with diligence to protect civilians without undermining human rights law, including the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of suspects. Additionally, governments must refrain from stoking hatred based on religion, ethnicity, or political opinion.

As we mourn the loss of life in these recent attacks, we also mourn the more than 200,000 civilians killed by the Syrian government, including those killed in the relentless targeting of hospitals and health workers. The failure of the international community to address the war crimes in Syria for almost five years has certainly contributed to the ability of ISIS to develop and export violence around the world.

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