Turkey: Doctors protest excessive use of force, including chemical weapons

June 20, 2013


Turkish doctors have been actively protesting the use of excessive force, including tear gas, against protesters during the latest social unrest in several Turkish cities. The Turkish Medical Association has called for an immediate end to uncontrolled police violence, the British Medical Journal reports.

The Association says that thousands of citizens have been injured in the past weeks after authorities used tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets to break up protests. Several people have reportedly died. Ahmet Ozdemir Aktan, president of the TMA calls for an end to inappropriate use of chemical agents. He reminds readers that tear gas a chemical weapon, and writes that Turkey should not use it to torture civilians.


The protesters ask for more democracy and freedom from the ruling AKP party, which under the leadership of Prime Minister Erdoğan, is increasingly promoting faith-based laws. For instance, a recent law almost forbids drinking alcohol outside the home. “With the AKP having a solid majority in the Turkish parliament, these laws have been passed without any due discussion, and many see these as part of Erdoğan’s plan to transform Turkish society into some form of Islamic state”, Aktan wrote. The demonstrations started in the last week of May at Taksim Square in Istanbul.


Ahmet Ozdemir Aktan, Tear gas is a chemical weapon, and Turkey should not use it to torture civilians. BMJ, 2013; 346:f3801

Richard Hurley, Turkish doctors accuse police of deliberately injuring protesters. BMJ, 2013; 346:f3674