Campaigners for the release of ill Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk organised a press conference on Friday in Istanbul, Turkey.
While representatives for the international ‘1000 Women for Aysel Tuğluk’ campaign called for the release of Tuğluk and other prisoners with serious medical conditions, lawyer Elif Taşdöğen noted that Tuğluk was denied release despite having been diagnosed with dementia in 2021 by a medical team in Kocaeli University, and that the state controlled Turkish Forensic Medicine Institution (ATK), later issued a report negating the previous diagnosis.
One of the most prominent representatives of Turkish physicians, the former chair of the Turkish Medical Association’s (TTB) Istanbul branch, said that medical ethics clearly dictated physicians to stand against political pressures in favour of the patient.
Prof. Dr. Pınar Saip said:
“We are all obliged to make examinations and diagnose impartially, no matter what the language, religion, race or political opinion of the patient is. This is a principle dictated by medical ethics. In cases when we are forced to make a choice between legal pressures and the medical profession, all the decrees of both the Turkish Medical Association and the World Medical Association urge us to be impartial. Unfortunately we do not have the means to oversee the situations in prisons. We are not able to report whether the prisoners are faced with problems in their access to medical services.”
Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the chairperson of the Turkish Medical Association, earlier said in March that the diagnosis of the ATK was ‘completely wrong despite clear symptoms’, and that the diagnosis in all cases of ill prisoners should be made by independent institutions instead of the ATK which operates under the control of the Turkish ministry of justice.
Tuğluk, a former MP and one of the top officials of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been incarcerated since December 2016. Although she was diagnosed with dementia, she is denied release on the basis of a report by the government controlled, ATK which states that she is actually fit for prison conditions.
According to data published by the Human Rights Association (İHD) of Turkey, there are currently more than 1,600 sick prisoners in Turkey, over 600 of whom have serious conditions.