For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today welcomed an Ankara court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the Turkish Medical Association (TMA), which had mobilized medical personnel to provide emergency care to demonstrators injured during the Gezi Park protests.
“We hope this puts an end to what has been a disturbing crackdown in Turkey on medical providers, who did exactly what they were supposed to do by treating the injured,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. “This lawsuit was clearly an intimidation tactic, and should never have been brought forward. We urge the Turkish government to respect the right and responsibility of doctors to do their job during crises, without the threat of harassment.”
The Turkish Ministry of Health (MOH) filed the lawsuit in January 2014, claiming that the TMA illegally “established healthcare units called infirmaries” in response to protests at Gezi Park that began in May 2013. In a friend-of-the-court brief, PHR said members of the TMA not only followed international medical ethics by providing emergency care, but also acted in accordance with the Turkish penal code, which makes it a crime for medical personnel to neglect their duty to provide emergency care to those in need.
The lawsuit is one of many recent examples of the Turkish government’s assault on health care providers. During the Gezi Park protests, police forces deployed tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets against medical workers, some of whom were also detained and beaten.
Today’s decision comes following a hearing at the 23rd Basic Civil Court in Ankara. In October, a Turkish court dismissed a lawsuit in a similar case that had been filed against TMA members in Hatay.
In addition to PHR, leading U.S. and European medical groups have also called for the dismissal of the Ankara case, including the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, the British Medical Association, the German Medical Association, the International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organizations, the Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organizations, the Standing Committee of European Doctors, and the World Medical Association.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.