Rights groups launch campaign, call for release of doctor and human rights activist Fincancı

International rights groups have launched campaigns and called for the immediate release of doctors union chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who was arrested in Turkey on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Amnesty International issued an urgent call to action on Monday for the release of Fincancı.

Fincancı, 63, chairperson of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), a forensic expert and a prominent human rights activist, was taken into custody at her home in İstanbul on October 26 and arrested in Ankara, where she was brought for questioning, the next day.

In a sample letter provided by Amnesty International for use by the public, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Şaban Yılmaz is urged to request the immediate and unconditional release of Fincancı. “Prof Fincancı is facing a criminal prosecution, simply because she called for an independent investigation into allegations of banned weapons use,” the letter says.

According to a report by the Bianet news website, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Health Institutions against Torture, Impunity and other Human Rights Violations addressed a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and asked for Fincancı’s release.

“The authorities must ensure criminal investigations, detentions, and prosecutions are not misused and abused to silence Human Rights defenders,” the letter said.

Fincancı‘s arrest came after she called for an investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Fincancı faces charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and insulting the state in her remarks.

She recently answered questions posed by the BBC from Sincan Prison in Ankara through her lawyers. When asked to comment on the accusations against her, Fincancı said she was facing a political process and not a legal one since arresting someone pending trial on terrorist propaganda charges was “not acceptable” in terms of the law and that her returning from abroad after learning about the investigation into her showed that there’s no reason to suspect she poses a flight risk. 

Turkey has strongly rejected the allegations that appeared in media outlets close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that its army was using chemical weapons in its counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.

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