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Turkish Medical Association council members freed

Members of the TMA (Turkish Medical Asociation) council have been released following their arrests for warning about the health risks posed by war.

Eleven members of the council were released on 5 February following a total of seven days of detention.

The TMA’s council was arrested on 30 January following the TMA's publication of a statement six-days earlier, which warned that war and armed conflict represented public-health risks.

The statement, which comes at a time when Turkish armed forces are taking military action against Syria, saw the TMA labelled as ‘terrorist lovers’.

The BMA, which described the council’s detention as ‘a gross violation of international human rights’, was among close to 30 organisations internationally who spoke out in support of the TMA and condemned the arrests.

The association’s medical ethics committee chair John Chisholm and treasurer Andrew Dearden jointly wrote to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling for him to release council members.

In a statement released by the association on 7 February members gave thanks to all those who had called for their release.

The TMA claims that, in addition to the arrests of its council members, computers belonging to the association were also seized, and that the country’s minister of health entered a legal bid to have council members removed from office.

The TMA’s statement said: ‘We are thankful to our colleagues, various organisations, parties/deputies, and our friends both here in Turkey and abroad who have supported us.

‘Since its establishment, the [TMA] remained as a professional organisation bringing all doctors active in Turkey together under its umbrella independent of any authority.

‘As [the TMA] we keep defending people’s right to health and values of the profession, and maintain our position of advocating for life and peace.’

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