Dr Şebnem Korur Fincancı, head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and one of Turkey’s top forensic experts, told a court on Thursday that her expertise was under fire in the case where she stands accused of membership in a terrorist organisation.
“I had found a child’s jawbone in Cizre,” Fincancı told the court, referring to a 2016 field study she conducted in Şırnak (Şirnêx) in the aftermath of intense clashes between the Turkish armed forces and Kurdish militia. “That is what they want to avenge.”
At the time, Fincancı, together with the Human Rights Association (İHD) and Human Rights Foundation Turkey (TİHV), published a report on Şırnak’s Cizre (Cizîr) town, where they discovered a scorched jawbone that “appeared to belong to a child approximately 12 years old”, along with several skull bones. The discoveries were made in two locations, known infamously as the Cizre Basements.
“They want to get rid of me and the TTB. They cannot,” Fincancı continued in court. “We are not afraid. They know that, but they want to intimidate society. Wherever we are, we will continue to fight.”
Fincancı will continue to hold any and all authorities to account, “as long as they continue to commit crimes”, she said.
The physician was arrested in late October over her comments on the Turkish armed forces’ potential use of chemical weapons in their operations in northern Iraq. Dr Fincancı said symptoms displayed in a video released by the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) were compatible with the use of chemical weapons, and that HPG’s claims of Turkish chemical use were not outside the realm of possibility.
“I made a medical assessment,” Fincancı told the court. “How could a recounting of pulmonary bleeding be propaganda? There must be an examination on site, experts and chemists must investigate. This must happen in independent committees.”
Her comments were refuted by the Defence Ministry immediately, she added. “Saying something is slander without looking into it means you were lying.”
The hearing concluded with the court ruling to remand Fincancı in prison. Next hearing will be held on 11 January.
In a press release outside the court, TTB Second President Ali İhsan Ökten said the political targeting, intimidation and silencing of Fincancı appeared to continue.
“The integrity of the TTB is under threat here,” Ökten said. “But we will uphold healthcare, our future and our democracy. Fincancı must be released, and the pressure on the TTB must be lifted at once.”