Summary of actions concerning the Turkish Medical Association.
It has been requested by numerous organizations that letters and press releases be sent notifying ambassadors, Turkish authorities, the media, and others about the situation regarding the Turkish Medical Association (referred to as “TMA” and “TTB”) and its members for writing a Press Release describing war as a threat to public health.
On January 24th the TMA issued a statement decrying war as a public health threat. Following such, President Erdogan gave a speech labeling the TMA “terrorist lovers.” Pro-government groups denounced the TMA and called on the government to file criminal charges against the organization. This followed two days of threats of physical violence against TMA staff and its Central Council members.
* On 1/24 TMA received threats of physical violence and death coming from a government-recognized civilian militia group. The campaign began after TMA issued a statement denouncing war as a threat to public health – with specific reference to the war in Syria. As a result, some of the members of TMA went into hiding and staff reported that they believed their physical safety was compromised. Anonymous sources notified TMA that at least three of their members would be arrested by Turkish police on 1/26.
* On 1/26/18 PHR issued a notice stating that they had received reports from colleagues at the Turkish Medical Association. TMA had released an anti-war statement and as a result, members of TMA had become targets of a threatening campaign via email, social media, phone calls and texts.
* On 1/26 PHR noted that TMA was calling for public statements and press releases explaining their situation and advocating for their safety.
* On 1/26 PHR issued a press release condemning threats against TMA. In Ankara, two pro-government unions held a press conference denouncing the TMA and calling on the government to file criminal charges. Three members of TMA were taken into custody.
* On 1/26 the Committee of Concerned Scientists posted a notice on their website requesting Turkey to cease action against the Turkish Medical Association.
*On 1/28 the British Medical Association drafted a letter to the Turkish government from BMA in support of TMA.
* On 1/29 WMA noted that TMA was having difficulties connecting with the outside world. They were avoiding using their phones and email addresses, thinking they might not be safe. They would be grateful for a joint letter of support from numerous organizations.
* On 1/30 the World Medical Association condemned the operation launched against TMA’s Central Council members. Detention warrants were issued for 11 of them due to their statement about war being a public health hazard.
* On 1/30 PHR, CPME, IRCT, IFHHRO and WMA agreed to sign a joint letter to the Turkish authorities in support of TMA.
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31
30 January 2018
Mr President Erdoğan,
We are writing to you to express our grave distress caused by the ongoing campaign against the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) since its press release on 24 January 2018 stressing that war is a public health concern that damages the environment and threatens the survival of society at large.
The TMA is the Turkish affiliate of the World Medical Association and the Standing Committee of European Doctors, internationally respected organizations of medical professionals. We strongly condemn the campaign of intimidation against the TMA. The head prosecutor in Ankara filed a criminal complaint against the TMA on January 29, and the TMA’s office was searched. In addition, another lawsuit was filed against the TMA’s leaders, demanding that they be dismissed from their positions on the grounds that they are acting beyond the scope of the mission of the TMA. We understand that eleven of the TMA’s leaders are under arrest at the time of writing.
We are absolutely appalled that the TMA’s call for peace has been answered with such an extreme degree of force. We denounce this escalation of aggression aimed at the TMA in the strongest terms.
Our organisations represent together millions of physicians worldwide, who share a professional commitment to medical ethics, human rights and peace. Like our Turkish colleagues, the medical professionals we represent have sworn a duty to denounce violence and alert our governments and other relevant decision-makers to the dramatic immediate and long-term health effects of warfare and armed conflicts.
The Turkish Medical Association has done nothing other than express its opinion in support of human rights and peace. This is not a criminal offence. Moreover, filing a criminal complaint against the TMA on the basis of the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression constitutes a flagrant infringement of human rights as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Turkey ratified in 2003, hereby establishing its consent to be bound by its provisions.
We therefore urge the Turkish authorities to:
” Release immediately the leaders of the Turkish Medical Association;
” Put an immediate end to all acts of harassment and intimidation, including at the judicial level, against the Turkish Medical Association;
” Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and instruments ratified by Turkey.
We trust that you will promptly take all the necessary actions in line with these core universal human rights and values.
Dr Yoshitake Yokokura, President, World Medical Association (WMA)
Donna McKay, Executive Director, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
Dr. Jacques de Haller, President, Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME)
European Forum of Medical Associations (EFMA)
Victor Madrigal, Secretary General, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
Adriaan van Es, Director of the Medical Human Rights Network (IFHHRO)
Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Binali Yıldırım, Vekaletler Caddesi Başbakanlık Merkez Bina, 06573 Kızılay / Ankara ; Tel: (0312) 422 10 00 ; Fax:+90 312 403 62 82 ; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad, No: 8 Balgat / Ankara – Turkey 06100; Tel : +90 (312) 292 10 00
Minister of Justice Mr. Abdülhamit Gül, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail:email@example.com
Minister of Interior Mr. Suleyman Soylu, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00; Fax: 90 312 418 1795; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org // email@example.com
Minister of Health Mr. Ahmet Demircan; +90(312) 585 67 33, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
Ambassador Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: email@example.com )
* On 1/30 the Norwegian Medical Association drafted a letter of support for TMA. Aftenposten (the largest newspaper in Norway) has published the letter with an article about the situation.
* On 1/30 PHR recommended adding names to the joint letter, and sending independent letters, as well, requesting the Turkish ambassadors, where organizations are located, receive copies of all of the letters
* On 1/30 AMA agreed to look into the situation and discuss their involvement in support of TMA
* On 1/30 11 of the Central Council members of TMA were arrested and TMA’s office was searched.
* On 1/31 Amnesty International sent out an Urgent Action notifying its members that 11 members of the TMA were detained as part of a criminal investigation and calling for their immediate release.
* On 1/31 the German Medical Association issued a press release in support of TMA