Home News Study finds mental harm to Myanmar’s Rohingya is genocidal

Study finds mental harm to Myanmar’s Rohingya is genocidal

A new study has determined that severe mental health conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression among Myanmar’s Rohingya population are acts of genocide. 

These conditions, resulting from Myanmar military-led attacks, are recognized as serious mental harm that contributes to the destruction of the group.

The 88-page report, titled “My Tears Could Make a Sea,” by Fortify Rights and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School positions mental harm as a critical yet overlooked aspect of genocide. 

It is based on data from 2018 to 2020, which includes interviews with hundreds of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. These interviews detail the impact of military actions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State during 2016 and 2017.

Yale Law School Clinical Professor Jim Silk, who led the research team, noted the importance of the findings. “The documented evidence of persistent severe mental harm builds a strong case for recognizing these acts as genocidal under international law.”

Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights, said, “Mental harm qualifies as genocide under the law but is often overlooked. This ongoing genocide includes severe psychological damage as a significant factor. The study aims to guide humanitarian efforts and future legal actions.”

The report urges for a reevaluation of how genocide is prosecuted worldwide, promoting the recognition of mental harm as a stand-alone genocidal act. 

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It calls for state parties to the Rome Statute to refer Myanmar’s situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a detailed investigation into the genocide and related atrocities since 2002.

Smith expressed urgency in addressing the situation. “The people of Myanmar need justice without delay, given the severity and immediacy of the situation,” he said, calling for immediate action from international parties.

The study is intended to influence humanitarian aid and guide prosecutions, emphasizing the necessity of accountability and a comprehensive understanding of genocide.

Over 35 recommendations from Fortify Rights and the Lowenstein Clinic target the Myanmar military, international entities, and aid agencies. 

These include enhancing psychosocial support for Rohingya survivors and initiating studies on the long-term mental health impacts of the genocide.

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