Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Office of the Prime Minister
Vekaletler Caddesi Basbakanlik Merkez Bina’
06573 Kizilay, Ankara, Turkey
May 14, 2014
We are writing in concern with punitive action against Turkish physicians who provided emergency care to persons injured during protests in May of 2013.
According to press reports, doctors following their ethical duty to treat injuries are being prosecuted among other defendants in criminal trials that started on May 6, 2014 in Istanbul’s Criminal Court of First Instance. The doctors are being prosecuted for their actions in a makeshift medical center in the Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan Mosque on June 1, 2013, for allegedly establishing unauthorized emergency medical centers and for using the mosque for this purpose. Doctors Selcan Yuksel and Erenc Ysemin Dokudag face criminal charges calling for up to 11 years in jail.
These charges are taking place in the context of legislation signed by Turkish President Abdullah Guhl on January 17, 2014, criminalizing emergency care for protester and fining medical professionals for certain related actions. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called the law as “part of the Turkish government’s continuing effort to harass the medical community for treating those in need, including demonstrators injured during last summer’s anti-government protests.” We understand that leading medical associations and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Care have criticized the law, which puts professionals in conflict with their internationally recognized ethical obligations, as well as with Turkish law.
Finally, we are also concerned with the Ministry of Health’s lawsuit against the Turkish Medical Association. According to PHR, that action would remove from office the governors of the Association because of the establishment of urgently needed emergency healthcare units during the protests at Gezi Park and in other cities in 2013.
We join the numerous medical associations around the world that have protested the trials, the law, and the actions of the Ministry of Health. These include the World Medical Association, British and German medical associations, and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. We urge you to order the immediate dropping of criminal and civil actions against medical personnel acting under their ethical obligations to treat the injured, including protesters injured during demonstrations. We recommend that the law authorizing these trials be repealed and that administrative actions pursuing the same punitive goals be ceased immediately.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
President Abdullah Gul, Cumhurbaskanligi 06689 Cankaya, Ankara
President of the Turkish National Assembly, Mr. Cemil Cicek
06543 Bakanliklar, Ankara, Turkey
Minister of Health, Dr. Mehmet Muezzinoglu
Mithatpasa Cad, No 306434 Sihhiye, Ankara, Turkey
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Mr. Anand Grover
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations, CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland
- Turkey Passes Bill that Criminalizes Emergency Medical Care (physiciansforhumanrights.org)
- PHR Files Legal Brief in Support of Turkish Medical Association (physiciansforhumanrights.org)
- Turkish doctors condemn government curbs on emergency treatment (theguardian.com)
- Another blow to Human Rights in Turkey (humanrightsturkey.org)
- Gezi trials target health workers (humanrightsturkey.org)