Violations of medical neutrality and attacks on health workers in Istanbul by the Turkish police

June 25, 2013


IFHHRO expresses its deep concern about the attacks on health workers, medical volunteers and emergency medical units during the violent suppression of the recent Gezi park protests in Istanbul.

The Turkish Medical Association reports that thousands of protesters have been wounded, some serious and with lasting damage and disability. The Turkish Human Rights Foundation has consistently reported about the human rights violations, and alarmed the international community.

Protest World Medical Association

The World Medical Association (WMA), representing the global community of doctors and one of IFHHRO’s observer organisations, has sent a protest letter to Prime Minister Erdoğan about the use of excessive force and the attacks on health workers and violations of medical neutrality. WMA’s president, Dr. Cecil Wilson, writes:

“The WMA notes with serious concern that health-care services are threatened, violating the principle of medical neutrality. According to this principle – deriving from international human rights law, medical ethics and humanitarian law – health professionals must be allowed to care for the sick and wounded, regardless of their political affiliations. All parties must refrain from attacking and misusing medical facilities, transport, and personnel. We therefore urge you to ensure that medical neutrality is fully respected and that all health personal is protected regardless of whom they help.”

Excessive use of force

In an earlier letter to Mr Erdoğan, Dr. Wilson protested against the excessive use of force: “The WMA condemns strongly crowd control or riot prevention technology – such as tear gas and water cannon – that is misused, including to perpetrate human rights abuses or that is used in a manner out of proportion with the need, or against populations with particular vulnerabilities.” 

More information

Letters WMA to Prime Minister Erdoğan

Earlier news item on this topic