Turkey: Health Care under Siege


Turkey-PKK Conflict: Documenting human rights violations

When we finally entered, the emergency room was like a military base. There were sandbags lining the walls, men with guns everywhere. It wasn’t a hospital, it was a fortress.
— I.Y., resident of Cizre
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Report: Health Care Under Siege

This report required three weeks of travel to Turkey, including provinces of southeastern Turkey to interview families and witnesses, gather court records, and speak to government officials. 

From July 2015 to July 2016, the Turkish authorities 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. State media and officials reported at least 7,561 deaths between July 24, 2015 and May 23, 2016 related to the conflict between government forces and Kurdish fighters in the southeast, a period which coincided with the imposition of dozens of curfews on civilian towns in the area.

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Denied access to key cities in 2016

Turkish security personnel blocked a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) research team from accessing the town of Cizre in Turkey’s restive southeast earlier this month. That comes despite statements from Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that international organizations “can easily visit” the country’s southeast, where PHR was investigating allegations of human rights violations.


Doctors, lawyers, under threat in 2017

I returned to southeastern Turkey in April 2017 to attend the trial of Dr. Serdar Kuni. State officials accused Dr. Kuni of terrorism when he refused to close down his clinic operations in Cizre during the fighting in early 2016. I wrote about Dr. Kuni and developments in southeastern Turkey from April 2016 and April 2017 in the New York Times. Click below to read the whole article.