The Sick man of Turkey

16th March 2014 – By . The Turkish Medical Association (TTB, or “Türk Tabipleri Birliği” in Turkish) released a statement Saturday passing considerable judgment on PM’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s controversial reactions over the past year. For those familiar with events since the start of the nationwide anti-government protests of 2013, the 60-year-old independent trade union — covering 80% of Turkey’s medical professionals, & recognized by the World Medical Assoc. — just questioned the mental health of the Turkish prime minister. The full English translation of their 15 March press release reads as follows:

“The interest lobby provoked the Gezi events.”
“They drunk alcohol in the Dolmabahçe Mosque.”
“They attacked my headscarved sisters.”

We, as doctors, have been watching with anxiety the polarisation, the marginalisation, and divisive rhetoric Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been using since the Gezi resistance. We were terrified when we listened to what he said about Berkin Elvan at the Gaziantep election rally yesterday. Normally, nobody would try to steer two families who lost their children against each other. Normally, nobody would declare a child aged fifteen who was hit in the head [with a teargas canister] by the police on his way to buy bread and who died after fighting for his life for 269 days, a terrorist. Normally, nobody would distort the truth about marbles put in a child’s grave and call them “steel balls.” Normally, nobody would get a mother — who lost her child only two days ago — booed at an election rally. We are doctors. We know about thousands of different states of mind and the emotional states of a human being. We are worried about Prime Minister Erdoğan’s emotional state. We are extremely worried. We are worried for him, for the people around him, and for our country. We are sharing our concern with the public. – The Central Committee of the Turkish Medical Association
In other words, (if the EU or U.S. are watching) the most authoritative medical body in the land just affirmed what at least 50% of Turkey already believes: that the emperor has no clothes.


Suspected attacker seized outside PM’s office

21st Nov 2013 – Police in Turkey have arrested a suspected attacker outside the prime minister’s office, according to reports. Security officials originally believed the man was suicide bomber and fired shots in the air. But Turkey’s interior minister said the package he was carrying only resembled a bomb, and he was “mentally unstable”. Video footage showed security restrictions being put into place around the building in Ankara.

There were conflicting reports, with state-run media earlier saying the alleged attacker had been shot by police and taken to hospital. But an adviser to the prime minister said on Twitter that officers had fired into the air and no-one was hurt. Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency said security guards captured a 52-year-old suspect, who was thought to be wearing explosives, after he attempted to enter the prime minister’s building. They wrestled him to the ground while a bomb squad investigated. “This individual was carrying a device resembling a bomb but in fact it was not one,” Interior Minister Muammer Guler said, describing him as “mentally unstable”. The man was taken to a police station where he was being interrogated about the incident, AFP news agency reported. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not believed to have been in the building at the time.

He is due to leave later Thursday for a visit to Moscow. NTV television reported that a man had called the police saying he was a suicide bomber and was planning to go to Mr Erdogan’s office.


Tear gas continues to kill….Turkish government continue to ignore

serda23Following Ahmet Atakan’s (22) death during the protests in Hatay on Monday night, another very sad news comes from Kadikoy, Istanbul . Due to the large quantity of tear gas used by the police during  the 3 days protests in Kadikoy, Serdar Kadakal (35) lost his life last night. It was reported that Serdar suffered from heart disease and he had been complaining about the affects of tear gas for the last 3 days both in his house and where he worked in Kadikoy.

Serdar had a heart attack last night during his shift at a bar in Kadikoy, where he worked as a sound engineer. He was taken to Kadikoy Sifa Hospital immediately by his friends, however he could not be returned to life.

idweaz7krcjIn the meantime, AKP government continue to ignore towards this very serious issue. Egemen Bagis who is the minister responsible from the EU Relations gave a speech on a TV channel in Turkey, saying that in comparison to hundred thousands of people dying in Syria, the number of deaths in Turkey is nothing. “I am sad about young people dying in Turkey. But if the same protests had happened in London, Paris or New York, a lot more people would die. Our policemen are patient and brave”.

For the original articles:

Related articles

Urban Turks’ trust in major institutions dropping sharply, according to Gallup

Gallup surveys conducted amid the recent protests in Turkey show that Turks living in large cities are increasingly losing faith in the country’s main institutions, including the military.

According to the Gallup surveys conducted between May 19 and June 23, only 43 percent of Turks living in large cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants expressed confidence in the national government, compared with 68 percent of residents of smaller cities and rural areas. In 2012, 50 percent of large-city dwellers expressed confidence in the government, while this percentage was 57 among rural residents.

Most of the surveys took place after the raids on protesters’ camps in İstanbul’s Gezi Park on May 30 and 31. The police action triggered protests in other major cities across the country. Gallup’s data, however, show that urban Turks’ discontent with their country’s institutions was growing before the recent unrest.

In 2011, before Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won a third term, urban and rural Turks were equally likely to express confidence in several of the country’s public institutions. By 2012, these two groups’ views of the national government and the judicial system started to slowly drift apart, with urban Turks withdrawing support. This rift became larger in 2013 and included a loss of support for the military among urbanites.

According to the surveys, 49 percent of Turks living in large cities expressed confidence in the judicial system, compared with 66 percent of residents of smaller cities and rural areas. This confidence divide in the judiciary has never been greater between urban and rural Turks. In 2012, 48 percent of urban Turks expressed confidence in the judiciary compared with 53 percent of residents of smaller cities.

The Gallup data also show that Turks living in small cities and rural areas are now clearly more likely to say they trust the military than large-city dwellers — 81 percent versus 59 percent respectively. In previous years, the two groups exhibited similar levels of confidence in the military.


Letter to the Turkish Minister of Interior on Unlawful Use of Teargas

Open letter to Minister of Interior, Muammer Guler from Human Rights Watch:

Mr Muammer Güler
Minister of the Interior
Ministry of the Interior

July 26, 2013

Dear Minister Güler,

On July 17, Human Rights Watch released the results of its research on teargas canister injuries sustained by individuals in the course of the Taksim Gezi park protests. With this letter we are sending you our statement and victim testimonies. We documented ten cases in detail, although it is clear from the Turkish Medical Association that there are dozens of similar cases and a pattern of excessive and systematic misuse of teargas. Our research and investigations by other organizations indicate that police repeatedly fired canisters directly at protesters and at close range. It was also used in confined spaces.

After closely examining the circular issued to 81 governorates in your name on June 26, 2013 (İçişleri Bak. Gnl. No.: 2013.28; EGM Genelge no.: 55), we concluded that there was an urgent need to revise or supplement the circular by prohibiting the practice of firing teargas canisters from launchers directly at crowds either at close or long range. Moreover, we urged you to introduce a provision stating that officers who misuse teargas in this way and commanders authorizing such a practice or failing to take steps to prevent it, would be held accountable with disciplinary measures and criminal investigation for endangering lives.

We understand from media reports that a second circular was issued on July 22 further clarifying the correct use of teargas, notably by instructing police not to fire teargas directly at crowds or from a distance of less than 40 meters. While we have not seen the actual text of the circular, we welcome your effort to address the issue of direct firing and close range use of teargas.

As you are aware, there have been many circulars issued over the years which have had regrettably little impact on the approach to policing demonstrations in Turkey and have failed to curb police abuse towards protesters. While it is valuable to issue clear guidelines, they are unlikely to be implemented unless accompanied by a willingness to hold officers accountable for the failure to act in accordance with them. To date, efforts to hold the police accountable for such abuses have been notably lacking.

Human Rights Watch work around the world indicates that a change in the conduct of policing can only come through implementing Turkey’s own laws criminalizing excessive use of force and conduct by law enforcement officials that potentially endangers life. This should also mean that commanding officers receive disciplinary investigations and criminal sanctions either for ordering or failing to curb abusive policing practices by officers under their command. There is a need for a systematic effort to investigate police abuses and to hold perpetrators to account.

As you know, the European Court of Human Rights has in more than 40 rulings identified police violence towards demonstrators. The two most recent rulings, Abdullah Yaşa v. Turkeyand İzci v. Turkey, have received ample coverage in the Turkish press. In Abdullah Yaşa v. Turkey, the Court ruled that improper firing of tear gas by Turkish police directly at protestors violated human rights. In İzci v. Turkey, the European Court ruled there had been violations of the prohibition on ill-treatment, the right to freedom of assembly, and the obligation to investigate abuses and provide a remedy. Calling the problem “systemic” and noting that there are over 130 cases with similar complaints pending before it, the Court has said that the Turkish government must undertake general measures to prevent repetition of these violations and accountability for the police who commit them.

We trust that the Ministry of Interior and the General Security Directorate will take bold steps to implement the general measures the European Court has called for. This would entail comprehensively overhauling the approach to the policing of demonstrations, giving real effect to the new circulars on use of tear gas through training and the credible investigation of breaches, reviewing the policing decisions throughout the Gezi Park protests, facilitating full and effective disciplinary investigations, and cooperating fully with efforts in the criminal justice system to secure accountability for human rights abuses by law enforcement officials.

Yours sincerely

Hugh Williamson
Europe and Central Asia Division
Human Rights Watch

Mr Beşir Atalay, Deputy Prime Minister
Mr Sadullah Ergin, Minister of Justice
Mr Egemen Bağış, Minister for EU Affairs
Mr Nihat Ömeroğlu, Chief Ombudsman
Dr Hikmet Tülen, Chair of the Human Rights Board, Human Rights Council of Turkey


Please find the original article here:



Today was a very busy day in London for those who wanted to show their support for democratic rights in Turkey.

Article 19 organised a stand-still protest outside the Turkish Embassy to commemorate the 7 people killed during the protests.

People from Turkey who have been concerned about what’s happening in Turkey also organised an arts, music and performance protest outside the Tate Modern and on the Millennium Bridge which then continued at the Turkish Fest at Bernie Spain Gardens further down the Southbank.

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The placards and costumes of the participants were particularly colourful and showed the creativity of Gezi spirit. There was a woman with a sign “my bump is not ugly”. Another was dressed in a zebra outfit holding a sign reading ‘out with the penguin, in with zebra’ [during the worst of the violence government controlled media broadcast documentaries about penguins instead of showing the news]. There were musicians in gas masks and balloons with #london4gezi hashtag.

The following text is taken from the leaflet distributed at the performance event:

Who are we?

We are people from Turkey concerned about what’s been happening. Once a week we hold forums to find ways of supporting the resistance. Join the conversation and stand with us in solidarity.



T: @londongezi

To sign the petition for the UK government to condemn the violence:

The information provided in the leaflet is as follows

Let’s talk turkey!

Is freedom of expression not a natural right?

Does one not need green spaces in a huge metropolis?

Should we not be free to choose our lifestyles?

Not according to the current Turkish government!

Two months ago, environmentalist protesters were brutally attacked by the police as they defended Gezi Park in the heart of Istanbul. The government had gone ahead with the demolition of the park despite the court’s ruling against it. Images of state violence spread through social media and millions hit the streets in support of the protesters. Yet the government would not listen and continued to escalate the violence and lawlessness.

5 killed, 9000+ wounded, and 12 have lost eyes after tear gas canisters were fired at their heads. Countless protesters have been arrested.

Today, the witch hunt still continues

For treating the wounded, doctors are criminalised.

For defending the detained, lawyers are arrested.

For writing the truth, journalists are sacked.

Every day brings some new attack from the ‘usual’ water cannon and tear gas combo to or a more subtle ones on lifestyles. Pregnant women are just one recent target. Their bumps render them ‘immoral’ according to a leading religious thinker who says they should stay at home.

Today’s action is to bring the voice of the Gezi Park resistance to London.

Their demand for democracy must be heard.


For coverage of the performance in Turkish press, see:


Pregnant women are ugly. they must stay at home.

This is of course not the view of those of us who run this blog. Regular readers will know.

This is what a so-called religious expert, author, speaker on such matters, Ömer Tuğrul İnançer, said on TRT 1 (Turkish State Radio and TV Channel 1) programme about Ramadan yesterday evening, 24 July 2013.

His words in this video are:

OTI: Because to announce one’s pregnancy as if beating a drum is not good manners.

Speaker: God bless you.

OTI: You cannot walk on the streets with your stomach out there. Above all, it’s not aesthetic. After, 7, 8, 6 months, to get some fresh air,  our mother-to-be sister can get in her husband’s car and go for a little ride…over an evening…some things…now you can see with wings / without wings flying about on the TV channels…

Speaker: cringes [note not at what OTI says but at the idea of wings]

OTI: It’s a shame. A disgrace. This is called bad manners.

In the meantime, in the UK, Kate Middleton’s royal post-baby bump is a boost of confidence for new mums.

We wonder if monarchy is in fact better than democracy?!

We also wonder what unlawful laws have been passed through the Turkish Parliament today while people were kept busy talking about the aesthetics of pregnancy

kate middleton