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Ear to the Ground

Turkish Government Accused of Defying ‘International Human Rights’ in Its Fight Against Protesters

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Posted on Jan 21, 2014
AP/Kostas Tsironis

Medics and human rights groups are calling out the Turkish government for intimidation against street protesters as new legislation criminalizes the use of urgent assistance. According to The Guardian:

Medical personnel could face jail terms of three years and fines of up to 2.25m lira (£600,000) for breaking the law. The crackdown by the governing Justice and Development party (AKP) is seen as the latest in a long line of repressive measures enacted since Turkey was rocked by a wave of anti-government street protests last summer.

The legislation is part of an omnibus bill approved by parliament this month. Critics denounced it as an attempt to criminalise doctors and silence dissent.

Dr Vincent Iacopino, of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), said: “Passing a bill that criminalises emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government’s relentless effort to silence any opposing voices. This kind of targeting of the medical community is not only repugnant, but puts everyone’s health at risk.”

Dr Hande Arpat, of the Ankara Chamber of Medical Doctors, who volunteered during last summer’s protests, said the government had written medical history by passing a law that runs counter to all principles of medical care.

“Not only does the law go against all of our professional and ethical duties, [and] international human rights agreements that Turkey is party to, but it also contradicts the Turkish criminal code that obliges all medical professionals to provide medical aid to those who need it,” he said.

After the summer protests, the Turkish health ministry launched an investigation of the Istanbul Chamber of Medical Doctors, and according to Dr. Bayazit Ilhan, secretary general of the Turkish Chamber of Medical Doctors, physicians and paramedics became targets of the Turkish government. To read more click here.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman. 

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