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PHR Denounces Turkish Court’s Conviction of Leading Physician and Human Rights Defender

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) condemns a Turkish court’s sentencing today of Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, a leader in Türkiye’s medical and human rights community, to two years, eight months and 15 days of imprisonment on baseless charges of “making terrorist propaganda.”  

Dr. Fincancı was released pending the appeal. The conviction is the latest form of intimidation in a broader crackdown against independent physicians and other civil society voices in Türkiye, said PHR and other human rights and medical organisations. 

Dr. Korur Fincancı’s conviction comes a day after ten other members of the Executive Council of the Turkish Medical Association, Türkiye’s largest medical network, were brought before a court in the capital, Ankara, on similarly spurious charges. The Turkish government has claimed that many independent professional associations are in fact “terrorist” organizations as a way to discredit and silence them. Dr. Korur Fincancı, an internationally renowned forensic pathologist and close PHR partner, had been held in pre-trial detention since October 26, 2022. She serves on PHR’s Advisory Council.  

“Charging physicians who represent the health interests of all Turkish residents with ‘terrorism’ is ludicrous and shameful,” said Michele Heisler, MD, Medical Director at PHR and professor of internal medicine at University of Michigan. “Instead of saluting Dr. Korur Fincancı’s courageous and visionary work, the Turkish authorities have attempted to intimidate, punish, and criminalize her and other physicians’ work. The harassment must cease.”  

Physicians for Human Rights stands with the World Medical Association, the CPME and other international rights-based groups in calling for the immediate and unconditional acquittal of Dr. Korur Fincancı.

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.