Intended for healthcare professionals


Attacks on medical personnel in Turkey

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 07 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4933
  1. Vincent Iacopino, senior medical adviser1,
  2. Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities2,
  3. Otmar Kloiber, secretary general3,
  4. Eleanor Chrispin, senior ethics adviser, medical ethics department2,
  5. Michele Heisler, professor of internal medicine and health behavior and health education4,
  6. DeDe Dunevant, director of communications1,
  7. Eliza Young, publications coordinator 1,
  8. Emily Nee, intern1,
  9. Clarisse Delorme, advocacy adviser3,
  10. Birgit Beger, secretary general5,
  11. Katrín Fjeldsted, president5,
  12. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, president6
  1. 1Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), New York, NY, USA
  2. 2BMA, London WC1H 9JP, UK
  3. 3World Medical Association (WMA), Ferney-Voltaire, France
  4. 4University of Michigan, MI, USA
  5. 5Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), Brussels, Belgium
  6. 6German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer, GMA), Berlin, Germany
  1. vnathanson{at}

A call to honour medical ethics and end violations of medical neutrality

Doctors and other healthcare workers in Turkey, and the facilities in which they work, are facing sustained and intense attacks for treating patients injured during the current civil unrest in the country.1

By providing emergency assistance to the injured, medical workers in Turkey are fulfilling their duty under the International Code of Medical Ethics.2 Had they not done so, they would have risked international condemnation, faced professional disciplinary proceedings, and violated the Turkish penal code.3 Equally, as ethical practitioners, failing to provide such care would have breached the principles by which health workers practise and would have undermined their sense of responsibility to the society they serve. In the current circumstances, rendering treatment should be regarded as an ethical response to a need, not a political response to the unrest.

The Turkish government’s response to the protests has included using tear gas as a weapon …

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