Erdoğan targets top medical association over chairwoman’s chemical weapons remarks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said legal action was being taken against the head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB),  following remarks by Şebnem Korur Fincancı on reports of chemical weapon use by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on Kurdish militants, Evrensel newspaper reported.

Erdoğan, following a cabinet meeting, said he had instructed his government to devise a new structure for professional organizations such as the TTB, Turkey’s leading medical institution, Evrensel said.

The Turkish president's remarks arrive days after TTB’s Fincanci called for an investigation into reports that the Turkish military had used “toxic chemical gasses” on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule for four decades.

“The judiciary has taken action regarding the head of the (Turkish)Medical Association,” Erdoğan said, adding that his government that the association’s name would be changed by law and Fincancı heading an organization whose name contains the word “Turkish,” is something that “disturbs’’  Turkey’s citizens.

Turkey's defence ministry and top government officials last week firmly rejected allegations that the TAF had used chemical weapons in their operations against the PKK after PKK-linked media militant published videos showing chemical weapons being used by the army against the PKK in northern Iraq,  BBC Turkish reported.

Separately, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) representing thousands of doctors and campaigns to prevent armed violence, said it found indirect evidence of possible violations during a September mission to northern Iraq.

Fincancı, who is also a renowned human rights activist said that during a live broadcast on Medya Haber TV on Oct. 20,  she did not accuse the Turkish military of using chemical weapons, but merely called for an investigation into the reports, Kronos news site reported.

Turkey frequently carries out cross-border airstrikes striking suspected targets across Iraqi Kurdistan, where the PKK maintains its headquarters.


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