19 Jul 2019
Turkey: IRCT welcomes acquittal of Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci; calls on Turkish Government to stop persecution of human rights defenders

The IRCT welcomes the decision of the Turkish court to throw out the charges against Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci, president of IRCT member Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) and former member of the International Council and the Executive Committee of the IRCT. Dr Fincanci was arrested in 2016 along with journalists Ahmet Nesin and Erol Önderoğlu (Reporters Without Borders) for her support in a free speech campaign in Turkey.

Turkey: IRCT welcomes acquittal of Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci; calls on Turkish Government to stop persecution of human rights defenders

“We are greatly relieved to hear that these charges against our colleague and friend Sebnem, that we always knew were spurious, were tossed out” said Jorge Aroche, President of the IRCT. “Sebnem has dedicated her life to fighting for freedom and is a source of inspiration for all of us.” Dr Fincanci is a world-renowned forensic physician and respected human rights activist and a member of the Independent Forensic Expert Group.

Speaking on behalf of 161 torture rehabilitation centres in 74 countries, Mr Aroche continued, “The IRCT is convinced that the actions against her and several other human rights defenders have been a part of a systematic pattern of harassment, which we call on the Turkish Government to stop. Medical professionals play a key role in defending human rights. By providing psychosocial support and redress to victims, they help reconstruct societies and promote democracy and freedom.”

The harassment against medical professionals has been constant and intense: among hundreds of other cases, in 2017 HRFT’s Dr Serdar Kuni was handed a four-year prison sentence; in 2018, former president of the Turkish Medical Association Dr Gençay Gürsoy and Dr Fincanci were each sentenced to more than two years in prison on a separate charge and in May 2019, 11 doctors were sentenced to 20 months in prison for speaking out against war.

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In June 2016, Dr Fincanci along with Mr Nesin and Mr Önderoglu took part in a solidarity free speech campaign by symbolically guest editing the Turkish newspaper Özgür Gündem Journal. The Journal was the subject of a heavy suppression and judicial harassment by the Turkish government, its premises were raided and permanently shut down in August 2016.

Over the past five years, the IRCT has participated in numerous solidarity campaigns with international and Turkish human rights defenders in an effort to maintain international pressure on the Turkish government.

“The IRCT is convinced that the actions against Sebnem and several other human rights defenders have been a part of a systematic pattern of harassment, which we call on the Turkish Government to stop. Medical professionals play a key role in defending human rights. By providing psychosocial support and redress to victims, they help reconstruct societies and promote democracy and freedom.”

- Jorge Aroche, President of the IRCT

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