In January 2018, following the Turkish military incursion into Syria, the TTB (Turkish Medical Association) issued a short statement to raise concerns about the impact of this military action on public health. The TTB is an internationally respected medical association and an affiliate member of the World Medical Association, and we believe it is entirely appropriate for a medical association to speak out about concerns regarding the health consequences of armed conflict.
Immediately afterwards, the President of Turkey denounced the TTB, calling them ‘terrorist lovers’. Eleven of its senior doctors, including the Association’s chairman, were later arrested. We wrote at the time to President Erdoğan to condemn the arrest in the strongest possible terms (the letter is provided below). Following international condemnation, these doctors were released.
This harassment is part of a wider crackdown on civil society and political opposition in Turkey – most recently, we have learnt the President is seeking to pass laws that would undermine the rights of professionals to form associations and to represent their colleagues. We believe it is vital that the international community demands that Turkey ensures, in all circumstances, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the international human rights standards and instruments that it has itself ratified.
The chairs of the BMA’s medical ethics and international committees have written to the Foreign Secretary (the letter is provided below), urging the UK Government to raise this issue on the international stage, as a matter of urgency, in order to collaborate with our international partners to end all such acts of harassment and intimation in Turkey.
Download the letter to the President of Turkey
Download the letter to the Foreign Secretary