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Demand to release Turkish Medical Association council members

ISTANBUL: The Turkish Government has imprisoned members of the TMA council

The BMA has called on Turkey to release members of the TMA (Turkish Medical Association), labelling the arrests as ‘a gross violation of international human rights’.

BMA medical ethics committee chair John Chisholm and association treasurer Andrew Dearden have jointly written to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling for him to free 11 members of the TMA’s council, who were arrested on 30 January.

The arrests come in the wake of a statement published by the TMA on 24 January in response to military action taken by Turkey against Syria.

The statement calls for an immediate end to hostilities and warning that war poses a grave threat to public health. The statement saw the TMA labelled as ‘terrorist lovers’, and the subsequent arrest of all 11 members of the association's council.

In its letter, Dr Dearden and Dr Chisholm said that arrest and intimidation of medical professionals was ‘a gross violation of international human rights’, and called for immediate releases and end to harassment.

They said: ‘As senior members of the BMA, speaking on behalf of the association, its council and the entire UK medical profession, we are appalled by the Government’s arrest of the TMA’s 11 council members and condemn the arrest in the strongest possible terms.’

The arrests of TMA members represents the latest crackdown on the country’s medical profession. Turkey has previously faced international criticism for arresting and detaining doctors for providing medical treatment to political protesters.

The latest actions also drew condemnation from the WMA (World Medical Association), with WMA president Yoshitake Yokokura stating that doctors’ freedom of expression was being denied.

He said: ‘The WMA fully supports our Turkish colleagues in their public statements that war is a public health problem ... the TMA has a duty to support human rights and peace and we are alarmed about the latest arrests and the criminal complaint.’

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