Pledge to demand that the Turkish Government remove its threat to health professionals and stop interfering in

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As anti-government protests enter their third week in Turkey, the brutal police crackdown on protestors continues, with more than 5,000 people reported injured, some critically, and at least 4 protesters dead. Meanwhile, the Turkish Health Ministry has issued a threat to take medical licenses to practice away from doctors who have been providing treatment to the protesters in Istanbul. They are also demanding the names of all medical volunteers including Emergency Medicine Technicians.  

Health professionals have the right by international law to treat those in need.This threat constitutes a violation of the human right of the protesters to receive treatment and the principle of medical neutrality. 

Call the Turkish Embassy and demand that the Turkish Government remove its threat to health professionals and stop interfering in the care of wounded protesters!  

The phone number for the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC is 202-612-6700/6701. The phone number for the Turkish Consulate in New York City is 646-430-6560/6590.

TRANSLATED VERSION OF THE HEALTH MINISTRY NOTICE:

Since May 27, peaceful protesters have been occupying Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey. The park is one of the last green spaces within the city and it was set to be demolished to build another of many shopping centers.  What started with a few protesters trying to save the park has escalated to a national uprising over many grievances and the formation of coalition groups, including 180 organizations that formed Taksim Solidarity, to represent the people in negotiations with the government. 

However, the response by Prime Minister Erdogan has been severe and violent. He threatens the protesters daily. Riot police have repeatedly stormed the park and attacked protesters. They'€ve used water cannons, pepper spray and shot tear gas canisters into crowds. The protesters have stayed strong against these assaults, doing what they can to protect themselves with helmets and gas masks made from plastic bottles, but so far more than 5,000 protesters have been injured, some critically, and 4 protesters are dead

The physicians are faced with a dilemma: lose their medical licenses or honor their oath to treat all who are in need. The response by the physicians is to refuse to cooperate. They held a banner stating: "You will receive not one patient, not one medical colleague."

Health professionals have the right by international law to treat those in need. According to Physicians for Human Rights, which documents abuses around the globe, the principle of medical neutrality states that:

  • "Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are trained to treat those in need €“ regardless of politics, race, or religion. Attacks on health professionals violate the  principle of medical neutrality and are grave breaches of international law."

€Threats by the Health Ministry that will effectively force doctors and other caretakers to stop treating patients are a violation of this principle. 

The author of this report, Margaret Flowers, MD, is an organizer of PopularResistance.org and co-director of It'€™s Our Economy. She also co-hosts Clearing the FOG

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