On March 13, I traveled to Şirnak as part of a delegation of doctors, lawyers, and supporters from Turkey and around the world to witness the trial of Dr. Serdar Küni. A well-known doctor from the region, Dr. Küni is on trial for treating patients during the unrest last year in his hometown of Cizre.
For more than thirty years, we at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) have maintained that the ability to obtain essential curative and preventive medical care is indeed a human right protected by international humanitarian law.
Last month, the only dialysis center in Douma – a besieged town east of the Syrian capital, Damascus – ran out of supplies and was forced to close. Within two weeks, two of its 30 patients had died of kidney failure. They succumbed to a chronic illness, but the Syrian government contributed to their deaths. Last year, the Syrian government repeatedly withheld humanitarian aid from Douma, whose nearly 150,000 residents have been under siege by Syrian government forces since 2013.
President Donald J. Trump continues to insist torture “absolutely works,” a jagged departure from fact, law, and morality. Within days of his inauguration, the White House was already circulating a draft executive order to reopen CIA “black sites” and review currently approved interrogation practices, presumably with a view to fulfilling Trump’s campaign promises to bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse.”
I’m a Muslim woman of color living in diverse New York City, but the part of the city I live in is predominantly conservative. As a visible minority, I have never felt particularly welcomed by some of my neighbors. But up until recently, I was comforted by the fact that if the hostility expressed toward me escalated, I could at least take refuge in the law — that no matter my religion or my skin color or my choice of dress, the protections afforded by the rule of law would provide some measure of safety, or at least accountability.