In a joint letter addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leading international medical and human rights organizations have called on Turkey to drop charges against the leadership of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).
A civil lawsuit has been initiated in Ankara under the law on the responsibilities and mission of the TTB (No. 6023) seeking to remove its elected leadership and local branches.
The eleven members of the TTB’s central council today appeared before the Ankara 31st Penal Court of First Instance. They are charged with violation of the law and risk being dismissed from their elective functions. The court postponed the trial until April 2023.
“Since at least 2014, members of the TMA [TTB] have been subjected to arbitrary detention, searches of their offices, and grueling years of battling baseless criminal charges and public smears that they foster ‘terrorism.’ In October 2022, the Minister of Justice announced plans to introduce new regulations to bring the TMA [TTB] under government control,” the letter said.
The letter signed by the CPME (Standing Committee of European Doctors), the Physicians for Human Rights, the Redress and the World Medical Association.
According to the leading rights groups, the court case against the TTB leadership is the latest in a series of attacks on independent medical and other professions.
In January, another Turkish court convicted Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the president of the TTB and a renowned human rights activist, of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in a trial seen by government critics as an attempt to silence dissent.
The court sentenced Fincancı to two years, eight months and 15 days in prison and ordered her immediate release from pre-trial detention.