The IRCT condemns the sentencing of 11 members of the Turkish Medical Association and calls on the Turkish courts to overturn the convictions and immediately drop all charges. The doctors were given 20-month prison sentences for a statement they made in January 2018, declaring that war is a public health problem.
The sentencing takes place in a broader context of political crackdown on hundreds of doctors, forensic experts, and other health professionals, as well as journalists and academics in Turkey for discharging their ethical and professional duties.
In December last year, Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci, President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), an IRCT member, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, based on spurious charges related to her human rights activities. In 2017, Dr Serdar Kuni, a medical doctor working for HRFT in Cizre in South-eastern Turkey was handed a four-year prison sentence, while two other colleagues from HRFT were dismissed from their publicly held positions as a result of their work as human rights defenders.
“This is an affront to all of us working on health and human rights,” said Jorge Aroche, President of the IRCT. “Medical professionals play a key role in defending human rights. By providing psychosocial support and redress to victims, we help reconstruct societies, and promote democracy and freedom. We have been witnessing increasing threats, harassment and persecution of medical practitioners around the world. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues”.
The Turkish Medical Association is the largest of its kind in Turkey with over 83,000 members representing 80 percent of the country’s doctors and is the Turkish affiliate of the World Medical Association. It is an internationally renowned organisation, respected for its rigorous, professional and independent work on public health and human rights.