Afrin: Erdogan cracks down on Turkish dissent

Submitted by Matthew on 7 February, 2018 - 3:44 Author: Gemma Short

Eleven members of the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) were arrested on 30 January following the publication of a statement by the TMA condemning Turkey′s military action in Afrin, Syria. The statement called for an end to all hostilities and warned that war posed a threat to public health. The Turkish government, along with Syrian rebels, launched an assault on Kurdish-controlled Afrin in Syria on 21 January.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the dominant force there. Turkey insists the YPG are terrorist. Terrorist regime In fact Erdogan’s government have long been terrorising Kurds in both Turkey and Syria. Human Rights Watch reports Turkish border guards shooting at Syrian refugees fleeing fighting in Afrin and Idlib. The government has also repressed the wider population. Following a failed (pseudo) coup in July 2016 there were six months of emergency rule, nearly 90,000 civil servants were sacked and hundreds of media organisations were closed down.

All of those arrested were members of the TMA′s central council. Three of the doctors were released under observation on 2 February after international pressure, and the rest were released under observation on 5 February. The Turkish Interior Ministry says (5 February) that 573 people are currently in prison for criticising the invasion.

It is likely the government will still try and crack down on the TMA. Doctors have previously been arrested for providing medical care to political prisoners. Erdoğan has accused the TMA of ″treason″ and threatened that the association should be closed down. The British Medical Association has condemned the arrests.