Southeastern Turkey: Health Care Under Siege
Report also available in Türkçe
This report details the widespread grave human rights violations committed by Turkish security forces in the country’s southeast. Since July 2015, the Turkish authorities have waged a campaign against the population of southeastern Turkey, imposing a succession of 24-hour sieges, known as curfews, which have blocked access to health care – including emergency medical treatment for life-threatening injuries or illnesses – cut off water, food, and electricity to whole cities, and resulted in thousands of deaths.
During 11 months of curfews, Turkish security forces deliberately and illegally obstructed access to health care by using state hospitals for military purposes, preventing the free movement of emergency medical vehicles, and punishing health professionals for delivering treatment to the wounded and sick. Several emergency medical personnel came under active fire, as security forces did not respect their neutrality and status as humanitarian workers. Local residents were shot at, and some were killed, for attempting to move their wounded family members to safety.
The shutdown of the health care system during the prolonged unrest and persistent curfews has had predictably disastrous effects on people’s ability to access health care services – resulting in death and exacerbating the consequences of untreated injuries and illnesses – and has debilitated the region’s health care infrastructure and resources. It has also potentially given cover to serious human rights violations that have not been effectively investigated.