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HomeBalkansTurkish Court Ruling Dismissing Medical Association’s Board Condemned

Turkish Court Ruling Dismissing Medical Association’s Board Condemned

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A court decision in Ankara on Thursday to dismiss the board members of the Turkish Medical Association, TTB has been widely condemned by international medical bodies, the opposition and Turkish human rights groups.

“Do not touch the TTB. We are doing our duty,” the TTB said after the decision.

“The lawlessness regime, which was intended to be dominated by political power, has yielded another fruit; In the case of targeting the Turkish Medical Association, the series of unlawful acts that has been going on for a year has resulted in the dismissal of the members of the Executive Council,” the TTB added.

The TTB board, or executive council, was dismissed after its president, Sebnem Korur Fincanci, called for an investigation into allegations of chemical weapon use by the Turkish army.

In January 2023, Fincanci was jailed for two years and eight months for terrorist propaganda. She walked free on account of the five months she had already served.

The court has appointed a five-member board of trustees to oversee the election of a new executive council. Until the court’s decision is finalised at an appeals level, it will remain on duty.

The TTB has received support from numerous international medical organisations.

“World Medical Association, WMA, continues to support TTB.  Nothing has changed for TTB from yesterday to today. The Central Council will remain in office until the decision is finalised on appeal. If there is no equality, no freedom, no democracy, no justice, no health; struggle is a right!” WMA said on X on Thursday.

“European doctors call on the Turkish authorities to unconditionally safeguard the autonomy and independence of the Turkish Medical Association,” Dr Christiaan Keijzer, president of the Standing Committee of European Doctors, CPME, said in a written statement.

Turkish rights groups and the opposition also backed the TTB.

“The decision made by political institutions was finalized by the judiciary. We know that this decision is a political decision, not a legal one. The TTB is the professional organisation of [Turkey’s] physicians,” the Human Rights Association of Turkey, IHD, wrote on X on Thursday.

Ozgur Ozel, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, called the decision unlawful.

“The decision to dismiss the members of the TTB Executive Council is against the law …We will continue to defend the law and stand by the elected bodies of the TTB,” Ozel said on Thursday.

The court’s decision represents a dangerous precedent, rights group warn.

“This is the first time since the 1980 coup d’etat that a professional union is being dismissed. This is concerning because it might set a precedent for other professional organisations, such as bar associations,” the Media and Law Studies Association, MLSA, said in a statement on Friday.

Since the pandemic, due to its criticism of President Erdogan’s government, there have been calls by the ruling parties for the TTB, the official representative of medical workers in Turkey, to be to closed and its administrators arrested.

Fincanci is a professor of forensic sciences and, besides leading Turkish medical workers, has been a senior human rights activist, campaigning against torture, war crimes and mistreatment in Turkey and abroad.

Balkan Insight named Fincanci as one of its Heroes of 2022 due to her consistent struggle for justice and human rights.

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