The first person we met with upon arriving in Istanbul last June was the father of Berkin Elvan – a 14-year-old boy who left his home to buy bread during the Gezi Park protests and was hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police.
As the dust settles in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, with an agreement between the government and opposition groups, many questions remain. Will there be an independent investigation into the government’s tactics to put down the protests, including the reported use of snipers, which violate the principles on use of force?
2013 hit a low point, bringing about a new and more ferocious wave of targeted attacks on medical personnel and facilities. In an effort to destroy opposition, hide wounds inflicted by government authorities, and intimidate doctors from treating protesters and fighters, medical care -- and those who take an oath to provide it -- has come under a full assault.
PHR sent this letter to the Turkish Ministry of Health expressing our deep concern over the ministry's efforts to pass legislation that would prevent medical personnel from providing emergency care to anyone in need, including demonstrators.
Along with many of my medical colleagues, I have been appalled to read recent news accounts of Turkish doctors being arrested, questioned, and threatened with having their medical licenses revoked merely for treating protesters wounded in clashes with security forces in Istanbul. We have also been encouraged, however, to see the Turkish Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Central Council respond so forcefully to the Ministry of Health’s attempts to discourage physicians from treating protesters engaged in “illegal” activities.