A physicians group working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh says medical and scientific evidence indicates the extent of the violence they suffered at the hands of the Myanmar military and civilians.
In “Please Tell the World What They Have Done to Us,” Physicians for Human Rights detailed the findings of forensic medical evaluations of 22 Rohingya survivors of an August 2017 assault on the village of Chut Pyin in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
PHR said that “Chut Pyin is a prime example of a brutal campaign of violence carried out by Myanmar authorities against the Rohingya people, and that what happened in Chut Pyin, and elsewhere in Rakhine state, should be investigated as crimes against humanity.”
Fleeing Rohingya have given harrowing accounts of the military burning their villages in northern Rakhine state, and using rapes, killings, looting and the laying of land mines to prevent them from returning to their homes.
“We saw multiple gunshot wounds that are consistent with people having been shot while fleeing and heard numerous accounts of rape and other sexual violence,” said Dr. Homer Venters, PHR’s director of programs. “We rigorously and meticulously analyzed the injuries, first-hand testimonies, and eyewitness accounts and all our forensic examinations were highly consistent with the events that the survivors described.”
Seventeen of the 22 Chut Pyin survivors seen by PHR had at least one gunshot wound and the mobility of nine of the survivors was severely compromised.
The survivors suffered various injuries, including gunshot wounds, blunt-force trauma, lacerations and more. The injuries “serve as medical evidence to corroborate the survivors’ accounts of shootings, beatings, stabbings, and other forms of violence which occurred on that day,” PHR said.
“The power of science, of medicine, is that injuries do not lie,” Venters said. “Each laceration, blunt-force trauma, burn and gunshot wound tells a story, and we use this forensic medical evidence to shed light on what likely happened on that day.”
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state since August 2017, after attacks by Rohingya militants against state security forces led to military reprisals. The United Nations says the military retaliated in a well-organized, systematic and coordinated manner, calling the response a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.
PHR is a U.S.-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to document and call attention to mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. PHR shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 “for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.”