30 January 2018 16:26

Police detained medics for speaking against Afrin offensive

Senior members of Turkish Medical Association (TTB) who spoke out against Turkey's military offensive in Afrin have been detained.

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Administrators and members of Turkish Medical Association (TTB) who were pointed as a target by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan for calling for peace against Afrin operation have been detained.

Turkish police conducted raids on the homes of 11 administrators and members of TTB, including TTB President Raşit Tükel and members of TTB Central Council. There is 7-day detention order for the medics who have been taken to hospital for the medical check after detention.

Ankara prosecutors began a probe into the TTB council on Monday after it issued a statement last week saying "war is a human-made public health problem". TTB's statement is here:

"War is a public health problem!

As doctors we warn:

War is a human-made public health problem with effects of destroying nature and humankind, a threat to social life.

Each armed conflict, each war brings along human tragedy by causing irremediable problems in terms of physical, mental, social and environmental health.

As members of a profession who have taken an oath to save lives, we constantly keep in mind our first and foremost duty to defend life and commit to maintaining the environment of peace.

The way to cope up with the problem of war is to have a just, democratic, equalitarian, free and peaceful life and maintain it.

No to war; peace now and everywhere!

Central Council
Turkish Medical Association"

The comments led to angry remarks Friday by Erdoğan about the Turkish Medical Association whose members he described as "terrorist-lovers".

The association's head office received a "large number of threats of violence by email and phone calls", rights group Amnesty International said after the public outcry.

Erdoğan again hit out at the group on Sunday: "They are not intellectuals, they are a gang of unthinking slaves... They are the servants of imperialism."

After the Erdoğan's statements, TTB published secınd declaration:

"1- The Central Council of Turkish Medical Association (TTB) made an open declaration on Wednesday, 24 January 2018.

2- Different reactions were received in the following two days. Besides many approving and supporting the statement there were also discourse and threats targeting the association and even inviting lynch by adding some statements that do not exist in the original declaration.

3- The TTB Central Council pays attention to reactions from both its members and citizens.

4- What must be repeated first of all is that the statement by the TTB Central Council is formulated with utmost meticulousness by observing the well-being of our children now beyond borders, their parents and close circles, devoid of any disrespect. Those who are on duty abroad are just our souls as others who react.  The TTB Central Council rejects distortions made against itself in this respect.

5- The TTB Central Council expressed its opinion in this process in line with a stance and sense of responsibility that a medical association should adopt.  The values of the profession of medicine in regard to such cases as conflict, war, actions against terrorism and similar others as well as position statements with long years of background are clear enough to dismiss divergent interpretations. The statement by the TTB Central Council dated January 24th remains fully loyal to this ground.

6- In spite of these we sadly hear, see and experience some reactions turning into calls of stigmatization that may well bring along some provocative assaults. Indeed, the latest statements made by the highest authorities of the State bear the risk that they can be conceived as the statements pointing out to the TTB Central Council as a common target.

7- In the light of this information, TTB Central Council reminds the public authority its responsibility to fulfil the duty of creating an environment in which the life safety of all is ensured and freedom of expression is protected for all without any exception. On this occasion, we once more share our wish for a free, democratic and peaceful Turkey and the world."

WORLD MEDICAL ASSOCIATION CONDEMNED THE OPERATION

World Medical Association (WMA) has condemned the operation launched against Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council members.

The WMA’s statement is as follows:

“The WMA fully supports our Turkish colleagues in their public statements that war is a public health problem. The WMA has a clear policy that physicians and national medical associations should alert governments to the human consequence of warfare and armed conflicts.

“The Turkish Medical Association has a duty to support human rights and peace and we are alarmed about the latest arrests and the criminal complaint. We strongly denounce these attacks on freedom of expression, which is enshrined in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Turkey ratified in 2003.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to immediately release the physician leaders and to end the campaign of intimidation. We urge national medical associations around the world to advocate for the full respect of Turkey's humanitarian and human rights obligations, including the right to health, freedom of association and expression.

Turkey launched a cross-border offensive supporting Syrian rebels with ground troops and air strikes on January 20 against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in its western Syrian enclave of Afrin.

As many as 311 people were detained in the past week for allegedly engaging in “terrorist propaganda” through social media postings critical of the military operation.

UPDATE: MEDICAL ASSOCIATION MEMBERS RELEASED

8 of the 11 senior members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), including its chairman, had been released conditionally after 7 days in custody.

3 TTB members were released earlier, pending further trial. (EVRENSEL DAILY)