We urge the signing of this petition for the release of Drs. Haberal and Hilmioglu for health reasons pending the outcome of their trials.
To: His Excellency Abdullah Gul, President of the Republic of Turkey
This petition is sponsored by the Committee of Concerned Scientists — an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. In October of 2009, we wrote in concern about Drs. Mehmet Haberal and 11 other doctors and academics under indictment in Turkey. To our relief, we have learned that most of the arrested academics have been released on bail. However, two of those on our list are still being held: Dr. Mehmet Haberal, the rector of Baskent University in Ankara, who pioneered transplant surgery in Turkey, and Dr. Fatih Hilmioglu, a gastroenterologist, former rector of Inonu University in Malatya.
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The two have now been detained for almost three years. Turkish law allows indicted individuals to be kept in long-term detention only if there is a danger that they might either destroy evidence or flee – not likely in this case. Drs. Haberal and Hilmioglu have been in state custody since their arrests in April 2009; however, because both were suffering from ill-health, they were held in hospitals where they reportedly were receiving medical attention. Both men were subsequently transferred back to prison. Since then, their health reportedly took a turn for the worse. Dr. Hilmioglu suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and reportedly is gravely ill. Dr. Haberal has angina, cardiac arrhythmia, and severe anxiety and depression.
We are concerned that these academics and doctors appear to be on trial solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and of association. We are also concerned that such extensive detention without bail deprive defendants of their rights under Turkish and international law, which require such a trial to be held within a reasonable time. Finally, almost three years in detention pending trial, especially under these circumstances, surely exceed any limitations in the Turkish constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
We urge the release of Drs. Haberal and Hilmioglu for health reasons pending the outcome of their trials.
Note: Signature numbers 137, and 141-162 were brought over from a second petition site that we established.