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The new Turkey
Doctors: War is a Public Health Problem

05-Jun-2019

21 January 2018:

War is a public health problem!

As doctors we warn:

War is a human-made public health problem with effects of destroying nature and humankind, threat to social life.

Each armed conflict, each war brings along human tragedy by causing irremediable problems in terms of physical, mental, social and environmental health.

As members of a profession who have taken oath to save lives we constantly keep in mind our first and foremost duty to defend life and commit to maintain the environment of peace.

The way to cope up with the problem of war is to have a just, democratic, equalitarian, free and peaceful life and maintain it.

No to war; peace now and everywhere!

Central Council
Turkish Medical Association


What happened?

After 11 members of the TTB Central Council released a statement entitled "War is a public health problem" in response to the Turkish Armed Forces' (TAF) "Operation Olive Branch" into Syria's Afrin in January 2018, a lawsuit was filed against them on charges of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "inciting the public to enmity and hatred.

Announcing its ruling on May 3, 2019, the court has ruled that 10 former members of the TTB Central Council shall be sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in prison. Tried in the same lawsuit, one person has been sentenced to 3 years, 3 months and 22 days in prison.

The ones sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in prison are as follows: Mehmet Raşit Tükel, Sinan Adıyaman, Ayfer Horasan, Bülent Nazım Yılmaz, Dursun Yaşar Ulutaş, Funda Barlık Obuz, Mehmet Sezai Berber, Mustafa Tamer Gören, Selma Göngür, Şeyhmuz Gökalp.

Hande Arpat has been sentenced to 3 years, 3 months and 22 days in prison.

Since the physicians rejected the deferment of the announcement of their verdicts, their prison sentences have not been deferred.

Their verdicts of conviction will be taken to the court of appeal.



15 May 2019:

Turkish Medical Association Appeals to Ministry of Justice

İstanbul - BIA News Desk15 May 2019, Wednesday 09:38

After the former members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council were sentenced to prison on May 3, 2019 for their declaration entitled "War is a Public Health Problem", the TTB appealed to the Ministry of Justice yesterday (May 14).

Making a statement for the press in front of the TTB Central Office in the capital city of Ankara, TTB Vice Chair Ali Çerkezoğlu criticized the Ministry of Health in following words: "We expect the Ministry to explain this shame to 145 thousand physicians in our country."

Çerkezoğlu said, "In a country where the TTB Central Council members are sentenced to prison, no one can talk about the law, rights or justice."

'This arbitrariness cannot be accepted'

Referring to the conviction of former TTB Central Council members as "a shame of the law", Çerkezoğlu further stated, "We cannot explain this situation to the World Medical Association, its affiliated medical associations in other countries or other physicians' associations."

"We do not want this unlawful arbitrariness to be accepted", he added.

After TTB Vice Chair Ali Çerkezoğlu concluded his remarks, physicians went to the Ministry of Justice and submitted a petition, expressing their concerns over the unlawful points in the judicial process.

In their petition, executives of the TTB and other medical associations also stressed that if the judicial system is unfair and partial, violence against health workers cannot be prevented, social peace cannot be maintained and physicians cannot practice their profession in a good and honorable manner.

High Honorary Board: Council members are our honor

The High Honorary Board of the TTB has also denounced the prison sentences given to the former Central Council members.

Releasing a statement they have stated, "Our colleagues member to the TTB Central Council did what their responsibilities both as an honorable physician and an executive of a medical association required them to do. The TTB Central Council members are our honor."

What happened?

After 11 members of the TTB Central Council released a statement entitled "War is a public health problem" in response to the Turkish Armed Forces' (TAF) "Operation Olive Branch" into Syria's Afrin in January 2018, a lawsuit was filed against them on charges of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "inciting the public to enmity and hatred.

Announcing its ruling on May 3, 2019, the court has ruled that 10 former members of the TTB Central Council shall be sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in prison. Tried in the same lawsuit, one person has been sentenced to 3 years, 3 months and 22 days in prison.

The ones sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in prison are as follows: Mehmet Raşit Tükel, Sinan Adıyaman, Ayfer Horasan, Bülent Nazım Yılmaz, Dursun Yaşar Ulutaş, Funda Barlık Obuz, Mehmet Sezai Berber, Mustafa Tamer Gören, Selma Göngür, Şeyhmuz Gökalp.

Hande Arpat has been sentenced to 3 years, 3 months and 22 days in prison.

Since the physicians rejected the deferment of the announcement of their verdicts, their prison sentences have not been deferred.

Their verdicts of conviction will be taken to the court of appeal.



7 May 2019:

İstanbul Chamber of Physicians: 'This Case Does Not End Here'

Hikmet Adal İstanbul - BIA News Desk 07 May 2019, Tuesday 17:05

Eleven doctors from the
TTB Central Committee were sentenced to prisonfor "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "provoking people into animosity and hatred" because of publishing a declaration on Turkey's 2018 "Operation Olive Branch" in Syria's Afrin.

The İstanbul Chamber of Physicians (İTO) held a press conference in support of the TTB doctors today (May 7).

Along with numerous civil society organizations, former İTO and TTB Chair Prof. Özdemir Aktan, İTO Chair Dr. Pınar Saip, TTB Vice Chair Dr. Ali Çerkezoğlu, former TTB chairs Prof. Raşit Tükel and Prof. Gençay Gürsoy attended the conference.

"No court verdict can change the facts"

İTO Chair Dr. Saip, reading the press statement, said that they were tried many times before but never given a sentence, even at the time of the military courts after the coup on September 12, 1980.

Asserting that the sentences given to the TTB members "show the point where the judiciary of Turkey came," Saip said, "No court verdict can change the fact that war causes deaths, injuries, diseases and impairment."

"No court verdict can change the fact that leads to epidemic diseases by causing difficulties reaching safe water and food and health services, along with death and heavy impairment.

"No court verdict can change the fact that war causes great destruction for human communities, especially for children and women.

"No court verdict can change the fact that war is a public health problem and no court verdict can change the fact that our friends' innocence, legitimacy and rightfulness.

"Defending peace is not a crime. All and every single one of our friends who were sentenced because of defending peace is our honor. This case does not end here."

Dr. Saip was applauded after reading the statement.

"War is a public health problem"

TTB Vice Chair Çerkezoğlu spoke after Dr. Saip, calling for solidarity.

"Every physician know that saying, 'War is a public health problem' is not a crime. Because war is a public health crime. A student who doesn't know this can't pass exams, can't be a doctor.

"If the one who listened to us was a judge, he would understand that a statement with this theme wouldn't be an offense. But we know that we are not being tried for words that were said. We call every individual to question the judicial system in Turkey.

"There is malice here. For this reason, we don't have an expectation. Our expectation is, with those who are striving for democracy, to make our voice heard by millions."

Prof. Gençay Gürsoy spoke after Çerkezoğlu. He said that he is being tried as the founder of the TTB: "We are being tried in a judicial mechanism that is this uninformed about Turkey.

What did the TTB doctors say?

War is a public health problem!

As doctors we warn:

War is a human-made public health problem with effects of destroying nature and humankind, threat to social life.

Each armed conflict, each war brings along human tragedy by causing irremediable problems in terms of physical, mental, social and environmental health.

As members of a profession who have taken oath to save lives we constantly keep in mind our first and foremost duty to defend life and commit to maintain the environment of peace.

The way to cope up with the problem of war is to have a just, democratic, equalitarian, free and peaceful life and maintain it.

No to war; peace now and everywhere!


6 May 2019:

Doctors' Prison Terms for Criticizing Afrin Operation on Parliamentary Agenda

İstanbul - BIA News Desk06 May 2019, Monday 17:16

Eleven doctors from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) were given prison terms on Friday (May 3) for "terrorist propaganda" and "provoking people into animosity and hatred," because of a declaration they published regarding the "Olive Branch Operation" that Turkey's armed forces conducted in Syria's Afrin in the last year.

Ten members of the TTB Central Council were sentenced to 1 year and 8 months, one member was sentenced to 3 years, 3 months and 22 days in prison.

As the court did not suspend the announcement of the verdict, the doctors will appeal against the result.

Is stating a thought against the government a crime?

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Meral Danış Beştaş brought the topic into the parliamentary agenda, directing questions at Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül. She also asked questions about academic Prof. Füsun Üstel, whose prison term for having signed the Peace Declaration was upheld by the court of appeals in March.

  • What is the element of crime in the statements of the TTB members and the academics regarding the right to live in peace?

  • In which regulation does stating a thought against the government constitute an offense?

  • Are the sentences given to academics and doctors a threat to society to make people not criticize the government?

  • Why does demanding peace instead of war, life instead of death, and justice instead of injustice disturbs the government?

  • While Sedat Peker, who said, "We will make you bleed and take a bath with your blood," was acquitted and no elements of the crime were found in these words, why the call for peace by the physicians and academics were evaluated within the scope of an offense?

Prison sentence for TTB members

The İstanbul 32nd Heavy Penal Court sentenced 10 TTB members to 20 months in prison: Mehmet Raşit Tükel, Sinan Adıyaman, Ayfer Horasan, Bülent Nazım Yılmaz, Dursun Yaşar Ulutaş, Funda Barlık Obuz, Mehmet Sezai Berber, Mustafa Tamer Gören, Selma Göngür, Şeyhmuz Gökalp.

Hande Arpat was sentenced to 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days in prison.

The doctors published a declaration titled, "War is a public health problem," on January 24, 2018, saying, "Every conflict causes irreparable problems in terms of physical, mental, social and environmental health."

In the trial of academics, 610 people have been tried for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" since December 5, 2017, for having signed the declaration titled, "We will not be a party to this crime."


31 January 2018:

11 Doctors from Turkish Medical Association in Custody, Sealing Order on File

Ayça Söylemez İstanbul - BIA News Desk31 January 2018, Wednesday 12:03

11 Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council members have been detained in seven different cities.

Speaking to bianet, lawyer Deniz Özbilgin expressed that the 11 doctors for whom detention warrants were issued have been detained, however, they couldn’t receive any official information from the prosecutor’s office since their detention proceedings weren’t completed, and that they couldn’t reach the documents.

Saying that there is a sealing order on the investigation file, Özbilgin expressed that he met with the four doctors, who were detained in Ankara, in the Ankara Security Directorate where they are kept. “They are fine, they send their regards to everybody outside”.

Police intervened in the crowd that gathered in front of the central council building to support the doctors, and detained some of them.

Seven cities, 11 doctors

Names of the detained doctors and the cities where they were detained are as follows:

İstanbul: Prof. Dr. Mehmet Raşit Tükel, Prof. Dr. Taner Gören.

Ankara: Dr. Hande Arpat, Prof. Dr. Sinan Adıyaman, Dr. Mehmet Sezai Berber, Dr. Selma Güngör.

Eskişehir: Dr. Bülent Nazım Yılmaz.

İzmir: Dr. Funda Barlık Obuz.

Adana: Dr. Dursun Yaşar Ulutaş.

Van: Dr. Ayfer Horasan.

Diyarbakır: Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp.

Besides, some documents were seized digital documents were copied during the search carried out in the building of TTB Central Council.

What happened?

On January 26, 2018, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called TTB “terrorist lovers” at the Extended Provincial Chairs Meeting at the AKP Headquarters. The title of the declaration which Erdoğan denounced was “terrorist lovers”.

CLICK - Erdoğan Calls Turkish Medical Association 'Terrorist Lovers'

Erdoğan targeted the TTB in Çorum and Amasya as well yesterday (January 28). On his return from his inspection at the Repatriation Center in Antep, Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu told journalists that he would file a criminal complaint against the TTB.

Prof. Erez had spoken to bianet

Speaking to bianet, Chair of İstanbul Chamber of Medicine Prof. Dr. Selçuk Erez had said:

“We the doctors always prefer peace over war.

“Our sensitivity naturally increases when it comes to a war that will end the life our soldiers, in other words our children. However, our sensitivity applies to our neighbours as well. This cannot be interpreted as terrorist loving”.

Investigation was launched

On January 28, the Ministry of Interior declared that it will file a criminal complaint to Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against the TTB Central Council members.

CLICK - Ministry of Interior to File Criminal Complaint Against Turkish Medical Association

An investigations was launched  upon the criminal complaint on January 29.

Declaration of the TTB

We the doctors warn:

War is a human-made matter of public health causing harm in nature and human and threatening public life.

Every conflict, every war brings a huge humanitarian tragedy with it by causing irreparable physical, psychological, social and environmental damages.

As member of a profession that vows to make people live, we keep in mind that advocating life and looking out for the peace climate is our primary duty.

The only way to deal with war is to perpetuate a fair, democratic, equalitarian, independent and peaceful life.

No to war, peace right now! 



27 December 2018:

Doctors Who Say 'War is a Public Health Problem' Appear Before Judge

İstanbul - BIA News Desk27 December 2018, 

The hearing of 11 doctors who are members of the Turkish Medical Association has been adjourned. The doctors, who are tried for the declaration “War is a public health problem”, have stated that they acted in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath.

Trial of the 11 members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), who are charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "inciting the public to enmity and hatred," has begun.

The investigation was opened after the TTB published a declaration entitled "War is a public health problem" during the "Operation Olive Branch", which was conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Syria's Afrin.

11 doctors who were not under arrest and their attorneys have attended the hearing. Executives of human rights organizations, representatives from political parties, Ankara Bar Association board members and representatives from numerous civil society organizations have watched the hearing.

Prosecutor requested sentence

After the defendants' statements, the prosecutor has announced his opinion as to the accusations, requesting two separate sentences for two statements dated September 1, 2016 and January 24, 2018, as Evrensel reported.

The prosecutor has requested that Dr. Hande Arpat shall be penalized because of her Twitter posts, Şeyhmus Gökalp shall be acquitted and suspension of the sentence of Ayfer Horasan shall be canceled.

TTB attorneys have said, "We think the opinion as to the accusations was previously prepared. We demand a defense as to the accusations for defense."

The court has ruled that time shall be given for defense until the next hearing and for this reason the hearing shall be adjourned to 9 a.m. on March 20, 2019.

CLICK - 11 Doctors from Turkish Medical Association in Custody, Sealing Order on File

'We said that the statement is not a crime'

The former Chair of the TTB Central Council Raşit Tükel, who has made the first statement among the defendants, said,

"After the arrests, the prosecutor told that we were charged because of our statement. We said that the statement is not a crime."

"We made a statement that underpins every kind of conflicts which are called war. Doctors' organizations want problems to be solved without weapons when there is use of weapons and force" said Tükel.

Ankara Massacre declaration counted as evidence

The declaration denouncing the October 10, 2015 Ankara Massacre which was found on Tükel's computer was counted as evidence.

When asked about the declaration, Tükel said, "The text that was dated October 10, 2015 and entitled 'We are sorry' is the text of the joint press release which was published right after the massacre. It is natural that the text was found on my computer, which TTB was a signatory of."

'This is why I took the Hippocratic Oath'

Mustafa Tamer Gören, a former member of the TTB Central Council, reminded that making people live is a responsibility for him as a doctor:

"This is why I took the Hippocratic Oath. I have a mission regarding protecting people's health. We have a mission such as warning the authorities of the public health problems which war will bring."

'Living an honorable and healthy life is a very basic human right'

Former TTB Central Council member Şeyhmus Gökalp said,

"I took care of hundreds of people who migrated to our country from Iraq and Syria due to conflicts. The truth I witnessed during these efforts is that mental factors like troubles and depression are opening black holes in the health of the individual."

Gökalp added, "Our statement contains the oldest value of medicine, which is protecting the human life. The right to live a honorable healthy life, the very basic human right."

Declaration of the TTB

War is a public health problem!

As doctors we warn:

War is a human-made public health problem with effects of destroying nature and humankind, threat to social life.

Each armed conflict, each war brings along human tragedy by causing irremediable problems in terms of physical, mental, social and environmental health.

As members of a profession who have taken oath to save lives we constantly keep in mind our first and foremost duty to defend life and commit to maintain the environment of peace.

The way to cope up with the problem of war is to have a just, democratic, equalitarian, free and peaceful life and maintain it.

No to war; peace now and everywhere!


26 January 2018:

Erdoğan Calls Turkish Medical Association ‘Terrorist Lovers’

İstanbul - BIA News Desk26 January 2018, Friday 14:31

President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has denounced the Turkish Medical Association’s (TTB) statemented entitled “War is a Matter of Public Health” released concerning military operation launched by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF).

Speaking at the Meeting of Extended Provincial Chairs at the AKP Headquarters, President Erdoğan spoke briefly as follows.

“They want to run a campaign in protest of war”

“Some sections hear this well. Today is the seventh day of the operation. 343 terrorists have been neutralized.

“A section so-called Turkish Medical Association, which is disturbed by this, wants to run a campaign in protest of war.

“We haven’t heard these terrorist lovers saying yes to peace until now. Have we heard any statement about terror operators inside us from them? No, we haven’t.

“They are involved in this. We haven’t heard that the ones, who go to Qandil and try to provide fund by means of the books they wrote, standing against the terrorists. Our step is a determinate one.

"These gentlemen have never been local and national. They have never been troubled by concerns of this country".

Statement by TTB

We the doctors warn:

War is a human-made matter of public health causing harm in nature and human and threatening public life.

Every conflict, every war brings a huge humanitarian tragedy with it by causing irreparable physical, psychological, social and environmental damages.

As member of a profession that vows to make people live, we keep in mind that advocating life and looking out for the peace climate is our primary duty.

The only way to deal with war is to perpetuate a fair, democratic, equalitarian, independent and peaceful life.

No to war, peace right now!

“We are not occupying Afrin”

Stating that the Parliament of Europe wants to show the operation into Afrin as “occupation”, Erdoğan went on:

“We are not occupying Afrin. Turkey’s operation in Afrin targets only terror organizations and terrorists.

“I want to address those in the Parliament of Europe who want to show the operation as occupation. Go and find the occupation in Libya, Rwanda, Mali. Turkish nation hasn’t acted sporadic.” (EKN/TK)