For Immediate Release
For the third time, a Turkish court in Istanbul today postponed a criminal trial against the president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and two co-defendants. The case is set to resume June 8. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) continues to object to the arbitrary terror-related charges lodged against her and demands they be dropped.
“Dr. Fincancı is a hero of the human rights movement who deserves to be honored for her work, not punished,” said PHR’s executive director Donna McKay. “We have proudly worked with Dr. Fincancı for decades, inspired by her knowledge and leadership. She is a leader in anti-torture efforts worldwide and among the world’s most powerful scientific voices speaking out for human rights. These charges against her and her co-defendants must be dropped immediately.”
Last year, Dr. Fincancı and her co-defendants were arrested, briefly imprisoned, and charged with disseminating “terrorist propaganda” after taking part in a solidarity campaign for a newspaper critical of Turkey’s government. Long a critic of Turkey’s woeful record on human rights, Dr. Fincancı has now endured three court hearings, only to have the case against her repeatedly delayed. PHR said today such actions are a violation of the universal right to a fair trial.
“Turkey is bound by international law to provide a free and fair process, and this farce is anything but,” said PHR’s McKay. “This is part of a pattern in Turkey in which dissent is punished under the guise of national security concerns. Dr. Fincancı, through her courageous work fighting torture and impunity, has been an exemplar in the global human rights community. She is now being punished for exercising her right to speak out, to defend the vulnerable, and to criticize her government.”
Last November, a delegation from PHR joined an international observation mission and solidarity rally for Dr. Fincancı, her co-defendants Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin, as well as thousands of other human rights defenders and activists currently being persecuted by the Turkish government. Earlier this month, PHR sent a representative to monitor the trial of Dr. Serdar Küni, also a member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, currently facing charges for allegedly providing medical treatment to anti-government fighters in Turkey’s southeast. He remains in detention.
“Turkey talks the talk of democracy, but so long as the government continues to pursue baseless charges against Dr. Fincancı and Dr. Küni, there will be no true democracy in Turkey,” said PHR’s McKay. “Democracy requires fairness under the law, and these drawn-out proceedings are wholly unjust. We stand behind these fearless doctors and all those who’ve stood up for human rights and dignity in Turkey.”
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.