The Turkish Medical Association and Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı Are Not Alone!
18 March 2022
The General Directorate of Security’s Anti-Terrorism Department commits a criminal offense in its social media post. We invite the concerned authorities to assume their duties. The Turkish Medical Association (TMA) and Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Financı are not alone! We will closely monitor the developments.
Yesterday, the General Directorate of Security’s Anti-Terrorism Department announced in its official social media account that it filed a criminal complaint against Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the chairperson of TMA’s Central Council and executive board member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT).
This unacceptable statement, which reveals that the political power is in great a rupture from the values of human rights, democracy and law, is really alarming.
Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı -an unflinching human rights defender, a good physician and scientist- has not only been objectively and scientifically criticizing the political power’s human rights and healthcare practices in all her competence but also working to protect and enhance the health and rights of the society. Moreover, she has been doing so without the slightest compromise from the perspective of human rights and democratic values.
The TMA, of which she serves as the central council chairperson, is the most important and respectable medical professional organization in Turkey with its more than a hundred thousand members. The TMA is an organization to which more than %80 of physicians practicing in Turkey are members, was established under Constitutional guarantees and through a law qualifying as a public institution. It, thus, is the organized voice of physicians in Turkey. TMA is also an internationally recognized organization and a member of bodies like the World Medical Association (WMA), World Health Organization (WHO), Association for Medical Education in Europe, and European Forum of Medical Associations.
What have the TMA and its central council chairperson Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı done then? They objected to the marketization of healthcare. They asked the authorities to act in line with the principles of science and public health, the standards of the WHO and human rights perspective in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They raised their objections to the escalating and somehow unstoppable violence against healthcare workers, the thorough setback in physicians’ economic and social conditions that further deepened with the ongoing pandemic.
Physicians and other healthcare workers have been engaged in a struggle for their rights led by the TMA in an exemplary conduct for the whole society. Demanding rights, criticizing the practices of political decision-makers and raising objections are the requirements of being a citizen in a democratic society. The democratic supervision of the political power can only be undertaken if this duty is duly carried out. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), thus, very clearly states in its numerous judgments and case law that those holding political power should not only be supervised by legislative and judicial organs but also by the public, civil society and mass media.
Nevertheless, the criminal complaint filed over the social media by the law enforcement going above and beyond its duties, practices and overstepping its authority right after TMA’s peaceful protests and activities held on 14-15 March 2022 that also garnered great interest and support from the public is nothing but a blatant targeting Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and the TMA in her person.
What the authorities actually want to do is an operation of repression and perception over the social media by means of the law enforcement. As we have expressed on every occasion, this merely is a new instance of the policies of the political power that makes everything an issue of security, that is polarizing, discriminative and hateful, thus encouraging the spread of violence among the public. We do not even want to imagine the possible consequences of such targeting. But we also would like to clearly state that the political power itself would be directly responsible for all negative consequences.
Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı is a human rights defender who devoted her life to the struggle to protect and advance human rights in the light of principles of universality, independence and non-violence.
Universal human rights law, which Turkey is a part of through the conventions, covenants and other documents that it undersigned, recognizes the protection of human rights defenders as an indispensable essence of a democratic society. According to the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, state parties have a responsibility and duty to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders against violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the declaration.
The General Directorate of Security’s Anti-Terrorism Department has thus committed a criminal offense with its social media post. We, therefore, urge the concerned authorities to assume their duties.
We, as human rights organizations, declare that we stand by the TMA and Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and will follow up the process till the end.
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT)
Human Rights Association (İHD)