Erdoğan says Turkish Medical Association chief has links to terrorism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), which has criticised the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, had links to terrorism.

 

"Since when can those who are involved with terrorism take over an important institution such as the medical association? This is not a democratic approach. This is a confiscation of non-governmental bodies by terrorist organisations," Erdoğan said during a speech to deputies of his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara on Wednesday.

Several members of the TTB who publicly questioned the official government statistics on COVID-19 infections have seen investigations launched against them, including the heads of local chapters. 

Fincancı, the leading forensic medicine expert and chairwoman of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), was elected chairwoman of the TTB on Sept. 29. In 2018, she was handed a two year and six-month prison sentence on terrorism charges for signing a petition in 2016 condemning the practices of Turkish security forces in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

"TTB and some other professional organisations are clearly violating the constitution. We should immediately take away privileges from those who do not deserve to have Turkish in the titles," Erdoğan said.

He said a planned legal amendment, similar to a recent measure applying to bar associations, would soon allow for multiple medical organisations to be established.

On July 11, the Turkish parliament passed a law that says bar associations with more than 5,000 members can split into other rival groups so long as they have at least 2,000 participating lawyers.