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“My Tears Could Make A Sea”: The Infliction of Mental Harm as Genocide Against Rohingya

April 24th, 2024  •  Author:   Fortify Rights , Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic  •  2 minute read
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The popular imagination associates genocide with mass killing. But the Genocide Convention lists four other prohibited genocidal acts, including “causing serious bodily or mental harm.” International tribunals prosecuting genocide have focused more on serious bodily harm and have found serious mental harm difficult to define precisely. This study, “My Tears Could Make a Sea”: The Infliction of Mental Harm as Genocide Against Rohingya by Fortify Rights and the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, draws on quantitative data, eyewitness and survivor testimonies, and tools of social science to assess how inflicting mental harm can destroy a group of people in whole or in part. More specifically, by applying the law of genocide to this account of mental harm, it addresses an urgent question: Is the Myanmar military responsible for inflicting serious mental harm on the Rohingya people as an act of genocide to destroy them as a group?

“My Tears Could Make a Sea” will help governments, prosecutors, investigators, scholars, human rights groups, and aid workers better understand, and act against, mental harm as genocide generally and against Rohingya people. It includes more than 35 recommendations to relevant parties, including the Myanmar military junta, the National Unity Government of Myanmar, U.N. member states, the International Criminal Court, and humanitarian organizations providing aid to Rohingya genocide survivors.

Download the report in English | Burma

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