ResourcesOpen Letter

Letter to President Erdoğan: Drop Charges and Immediately Release Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp

December 1, 2020

President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Mr. President,

I am writing on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights to respectfully request the immediate release and immediate and unconditional dismissal of all charges against Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp. Dr. Gökalp is a volunteer with the Human Rights Foundation of Türkiye and a member of the Turkish Medical Association High Disciplinary Committee, as well as a former Executive Board member.

Dr. Gökalp, who is originally from Nusaybin, is dedicated to social service and has held a number of medical roles throughout his career.

On November 20, 2020, Dr. Gökalp was arbitrarily detained. After three days in detention, he was charged using anti-terrorism laws and “strong suspicion of a crime.” The Diyarbakır Second Criminal Court of Peace ordered the pre-trial detention of Dr. Gökalp in Diyarbakır prison.

The arrest and detention of Dr. Gökalp is distressingly emblematic of other arrests, detentions, and dismissals of hundreds of Turkish doctors, forensic experts, and other health professionals who seek to provide medical care without discrimination in accordance with their ethical obligations as professionals. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals must be protected and allowed to speak freely without fear of retribution, and states must guarantee that they are able to perform their duties safe from attacks from any source that threatens their work, safety, and well-being.

We urge you to cease the arbitrary prosecution and detention of Dr. Gökalp, who remains a widely respected health professional for his provision of medical treatment without discrimination, as is required by medical ethics.

On all these grounds, we strongly urge the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp, and request that legal action against him be dropped.


Donna McKay


1.  President of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye Dr. Mustafa Şentop

2.  Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye, Office of the Private Secretary, E Blok, Bakanlıklar/Ankara-Türkiye

3.  Minister of Justice Mr. Abdülhamit Gül

4.  Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad

5.  Minister of Health Mr. Fahrettin Koca, Bilkent Yerleşkesi, Üniversiteler Mah. Dumlupınar Bulvarı

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