Head of Turkish medical association arrested for ‘terror propaganda’

The head of Turkey’s medical association has been detained for calling for an investigation into claims that the army used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants.

Sebnem Korur Fincanci is suspected of spreading terrorist propaganda and insulting Turkey, prosecutors say.

A leading human rights activist, she made the comments on pro-Kurdish media.

Turkey denies using chemical weapons against the PKK, which the EU and the US regard as a terrorist organisation.

Last week the militant group released video that it said showed Turkish troops releasing a substance into a cave as well as its effects on a male and female fighter. The PKK identified 17 of its members who it said had been killed recently by such weapons in northern Iraq.

Ms Fincanci, who is also a forensic specialist, told Medya Haber TV that she had seen the video and believed toxic gases affecting the nervous system had been used.

The jailed head of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, Selahattin Demirtas, agreed with her that there should be an investigation.

The defence ministry in Ankara said Turkey’s armed forces did not use ammunition prohibited by international law and aides of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised Ms Fincanci for repeating the allegation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to take measures against both the Turkish medical association and its chairwoman, whom he accused of speaking the language of the PKK.

“We are determined to make professional associations focus on their foundation purposes, by cleansing them from the terror organisation supporters,” he said.

On Tuesday, police detained 11 journalists in raids in several Turkish cities on suspicion of links to Kurdish militants.

Turkey recently adopted a new media law requiring jail terms of up to three years for disseminating false information about Turkish security that would trigger “fear and disturb public order”. Amnesty International described the law as “another dark day for online freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey”.