Physician Leaders Urge Immediate Release of Jailed Turkish Doctor

Physician leaders from the World Medical Association have called for the immediate release of a Turkish doctor jailed in Turkey for providing medical treatment to alleged members of Kurdish armed groups.

At their Council meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, today WMA delegates urged the immediate release of Dr. Serdar Küni, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey’s representative in Cizre and former president of the Şırnak medical chamber, who was arrested and detained in October last year.

The WMA adopted an emergency resolution saying that the case of Dr. Küni was one example among many of arrests, detentions, and dismissals of physicians and other health professionals in Turkey since July 2015, when unrest broke out in the southeast of the country.

The resolution declared: ‘The WMA condemns such practices that threaten gravely the safety of physicians and the provision of health care services. The protection of health professionals is fundamental, so that they can fulfil their duties to provide care for those in need, without regard to any element of identity, affiliation, or political opinion’.

It added: ‘The WMA considers that punishing a physician for providing care to a patient constitutes a flagrant breach of international humanitarian and human rights standards as well as medical ethics. Ultimately it contravenes the principle of humanity that includes the imperative to preserve human dignity’.

WMA leaders point out that Turkey has ratified several declarations on international human rights law. In addition, the United Nations Security Council has declared that states should not punish medical personnel for carrying out medical activities compatible with medical ethics, or compel them to undertake actions that contravene these standards.

With Dr. Küni due to appear in court again on Monday (April 24), the WMA calls for all charges against him to be dropped and urges national medical associations around the world to advocate for the full respect of Turkey’s humanitarian and human rights obligations, including the right to health, freedom of association and expression as well as the access to a fair trial.

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