A Turkish court has ordered the dismissal of Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), along with other members of the central council. This decision is a result of Fincancı’s advocacy in 2022 for an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkish forces against Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq.
In the final hearing on Thursday, the court cited actions contrary to the founding purpose of the TTB as the basis for the dismissal and appointed a five-member committee to complete the election of a new council to replace the dismissed members.
Following the ruling, the TTB said that the central council would continue to carry out its duties until the appeal process is completed. The association also condemned the dismissal, calling it “another fruit of a regime of lawlessness” and highlighting concerns about the erosion of legal standards and the increasing influence of political power.
The legal action against the members of the TTB Central Council follows another lawsuit against Fincancı, a forensic expert and president of the TTB, for comments she made on an online television programme about allegations concerning the Turkish military that could constitute a violation of international law.
The Turkish army has been accused of using banned chemicals against Kurdish fighters during its cross-border operations in northern Iraq, and human rights defenders around the world have called on independent institutions to investigate the allegations.
Fincancı said the symptoms shown in a video released by the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) were consistent with the use of chemical weapons, and that the HPG’s allegations of Turkish chemical use were not out of the realm of possibility. As a result, she was arrested in October 2022. In January, a court decided to release Fincancı from prison, while at the same time convicting her of terrorist propaganda.
The trial process against the TTB also began in October 2022, when the prosecutor’s office prepared an indictment after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted the TTB over Fincancı’s comments.
Fincancı, a human rights defender known for her efforts to end torture, is a board member of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) and a member of the Human Rights Association (İHD).