Five global medical organisations have sent a joint letter to President Erdoğan of Turkey calling for the immediate release of the leaders of the Turkish Medical Association (TMA).
Eleven Council members of the TMA were taken into custody yesterday (Tuesday) as a result of a statement issued by the Association declaring that war was a public health concern.
The five organisations – the World Medical Association, Physicians for Human Rights, the Standing Committee of European Doctors, the European Forum of Medical Associations and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims – say they are ‘absolutely appalled by such a reaction to TMA’s call for peace’, adding ‘We denounce this escalation of aggression aimed at the TMA in the strongest terms’.
The letter states: ‘Our organisations represent together millions of physicians worldwide, who share a professional commitment to medical ethics, human rights and peace. Like our Turkish colleagues, the medical professionals we represent have the duty to denounce violence and alert our governments and other relevant decision-makers to the dramatic immediate and long-term health effects of warfare and armed conflicts.
‘The Turkish Medical Association has done nothing other than express its opinion in support of human rights and peace. This is not a criminal offence. Moreover, filing a criminal complaint against the TMA on the basis of the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression constitutes a flagrant infringement of human rights as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Turkey ratified in 2003, hereby establishing its consent to be bound by its provisions’.
The five signatories to the letter urge President Erdoğan to put an immediate end to all acts of harassment and intimidation, including at the judicial level, against the Turkish Medical Association and to ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and instruments ratified by Turkey.