Breaches of medical neutrality in Turkey
The BMA has written to the Turkish Prime Minister expressing grave concern at the reported breaches of medical neutrality there.
We have asked for assurances that any medical personnel detained on the basis of providing emergency treatment to protesters be released immediately, and have emphasised that the primary obligation of all doctors is to provide medical treatment according to need.
We have made clear that threatening or detaining medical personnel for carrying out their professional obligations constitutes a fundamental violation of both international humanitarian law and internationally-binding codes of medical ethics.
What originally started in May 2013 as a demonstration against plans to redevelop Gezi Park in Istanbul, had, by June, escalated into nationwide anti-government protests. As street clashes between protestors and police grew, doctors and nurses were taken into custody by police. The Health Ministry was reported to be demanding the names of all medical volunteers, and threatening to remove the medical licences of doctors who have treated injured protesters.
In November 2013, medical bodies from across the world, including the BMA, sent a letter to the Turkish health minister, expressing grave concerns about a draft health law that would criminalise the provision of emergency healthcare in Turkey.
The letter warned that such a law would "provide the Ministry of Health with unprecedented control over healthcare practices in Turkey" and put medical personnel in direct conflict with their primary professional obligations.
The bill was passed by the Turkish parliament on January 2, 2014. The BMA subsequently co-signed a letter to Turkish president Abdullah Gül, urging him not to sign the bill into law.
The letter warned Mr Gül that the bill would compromise the health of Turkish citizens in need of emergency care, undermine essential trust in medical personnel and violate international and Turkish law.
Read our letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, November 2015
Read the letter, signed by the BMA, to the Turkish president, January 2014
Read the letter, signed by the BMA, to the Turkish health minister, November 2013
Read a BMJ editorial on attacks on medics in Turkey, August 2013
Read our letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, July 2013
Read our letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, June 2013