Turkey Protest Movement: Erdogan Government Threatens Doctors and First Responders, Violates Medical Neutrality

 The Turkish Health Ministry issued a threat to take medical licenses to practice away from doctors who have been providing treatment to the protesters in Istanbul. They are also demanding the names of all medical volunteers including Emergency Medicine Technicians. This threat constitutes a violation of the human right of the protesters to receive treatment and the principle of medical neutrality.

Since May 27, peaceful protesters have been occupying Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey. The park is the last green space within the city and it was set to be demolished to build another of many shopping centers.  What started with a few protesters trying to save the park has escalated to a national uprising over many grievances and the formation of coalition groups, including 180 organizations that formed Taksim Solidarity, to represent the people in negotiations with the government.

Gezi Dr Response

However, the response by Prime Minister Erdogan has been severe and violent. He threatens the protesters daily. Riot police have repeatedly stormed the park and attacked protesters. They’ve used water cannons, pepper spray and shot tear gas canisters into crowds. The protesters have stayed strong against these assaults, doing what they can to protect themselves with helmets and gas masks made from plastic bottles, but so far more than 5,000 protesters have been injured, some critically, and 4 protesters are dead.

Medic tents were set up in Gezi Park, but these were not sufficient to handle the severely wounded protesters. Makeshift hospitals have been set up in hotel lobbies and during some of the most chaotic moments, protesters formed human chains to keep the streets open so that ambulances carrying the wounded could pass through.

Prime Minister Erdogan continues to escalate his threats against the peaceful protesters. On Tuesday, lawyers went to Istanbul’s Caklayan Court to issue a statement denouncing the repression of protesters in Gezi Park. The police attacked the lawyers before they could fully assemble and scores of them were arrested. In response, thousands of lawyers took to the streets in solidarity.

On Thursday, PM Erdogan called on parents with ‘children’ at the park to take their sons and daughters home. Instead, mothers of the protesters went to the park and formed a human barricade to protect them from the police.

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