Health workers and academics in Turkey are calling on the international community to condemn ongoing rights abuses by the Erdogan regime following last year’s coup attempt, and urging solidarity with those targeted by the crackdown.
Some 207 individuals and 25 organisations penned an open letter to The Lancet this month, calling attention to what they describe as a “campaign of terror and punishment against thousands of health professionals and academics” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, one year after a failed putsch which has seen him tighten the screws on civil institutions.
Tens of thousands of public servants have been summarily dismissed, including 463 academics who signed a declaration for peace. Many of these academics, including several internationally-recognised physicians, have also had their passports cancelled, meaning they are unable to leave Turkey.
In addition, the authors say a number of international medical NGOs have been banned from working in Turkey:
The Turkish Medical Association has called on all parties to protect the professional autonomy of health-care workers to provide health care, respect their professional autonomy, obey liabilities originating from international legislation, investigate any violations urgently, and identify violators…
The international academic community cannot stay silent. We must react strongly by expressing our disapproval to the Government and universities of Turkey, requesting the immediate reinstatement and standing in solidarity with our colleagues and fellow professionals who have lost their jobs, as well as insisting that restitution of civil rights is a prerequisite for the right to health.
Far from being limited to Turkey, the authors say the events are part of a “worrying trend towards authoritarianism in several parts of the world”.
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