Turkey doctors union leader held over chemical arms comment

Turkey doctors union leader held over chemical arms comment

Turkish police on Wednesday arrested the leader of the Turkish Medical Union after calling for an investigation into alleged military use of chemical weapons against Kurdish militants, prosecutors said.

Sebnem Korur Fincanci was arrested on charges of “terrorist propaganda”.

Turkey has denied claims in media close to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that Turkish forces are using chemical weapons in operations in northern Iraq.

Turkey’s medical union leader Fincanci said he had examined the video footage and told AFP last week he only wanted an “effective investigation” into the allegations.

Ankara’s General Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday that Fincanchi had been arrested for “her remarks to the so-called media outlet of the armed terrorist organization PKK.”

The PKK is run as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.
The prosecutor’s office called for the dismissal of Fincanchi’s union leaders and the election of new ones.

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Fincanchi of “speaking the language of terrorism” and said he could not stay at the helm of the medical unit.

PKK has maintained a deadly pro-Kurdish rebellion in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

Turkish forces have launched a series of operations against the militant group’s rear bases in northern Iraq, a persistent problem in Ankara’s relationship with the Baghdad government.

Turkish officials have stepped up government crackdowns on opposition media ahead of Erdogan’s pivotal June elections as he seeks his third term.

At least 20 of his protesters and journalists were arrested on Wednesday after dozens protested Fincanchi’s arrest, according to his AFP team on-site in Istanbul.

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In the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, early Wednesday morning, dozens of journalists protested the arrest and demanded the release of their colleagues, AFP journalists reported.

His HDP of the pro-Kurdish opposition condemned “this aggressive and inhumane approach” by the police.

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