Fincancı: Even in prison, it is important for me to take part in the struggle for my homeland

The President of the Medical Association, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, arrested in Turkey for alleged "PKK propaganda", has commented on the government's efforts to suppress any critical approach and her prison conditions.

Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), was arrested in Ankara on 27 October for publicly calling for an investigation into allegations regarding the use of chemical weapons in Kurdistan. The arrest of the internationally known forensic scientist and human rights activist has sparked protests worldwide. Gülcan Dereli conducted an interview with Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı for the daily newspaper Yeni Özgür Politika. She is still in Sincan Women's Prison in Ankara, for "propaganda" for the PKK.

Regarding the smear campaign against her and the Medical Association, Fincancı stated: "Attacks on me or the TTB are nothing new. But in this case, it is obvious that they believe they have a way to devalue and criminalise us in the eyes of society. The fact that the footage of the raid was served to the biased media with a twist of the truth shows that they want to take full advantage of this opportunity."

Regarding the fact that the smear campaign is mainly fuelled by the MHP, the "junior partner" of the Erdogan government, Fincancı said: "Even if the junior partner thinks that my citizenship should be revoked, this is my home and the home of those who do not think like the junior partner. Let me give the same answer that I gave to these proposals years ago, and this time I have said the same to those who insisted that I stay: I prefer to be in prison in my own country than to be deprived of my freedom in another country. Even if I am in prison, it is important for me to take part in the struggle for my homeland.

It is not new that they are going after me, but the fact that I am on the TTB board is new, and at every opportunity they try to attack the TTB by instrumentalising my identity, which comes from the struggle for human rights. It is well known that the position of professional associations in this country, especially their stance on preventing and controlling the abuse of state power, the trust they create in society, their ability to correctly inform the public and their credibility are worrying for any political authority, and in times of hardening they resort to methods to remove this effect on society."

According to Fincancı, the attitude of the Turkish government since the AKP came to power twenty years ago reflects "the efforts of the political authority to get rid of its opponents, critical approaches and instruments of control".

Regarding prison conditions, Fincancı stated: "We can say that the policy of keeping prisoners away from the public has become stronger. I can list many violations, from access to health to daily life. (...) The isolation and segregation, especially of those held in prisons for political reasons, has become much worse in the past six years."

Fincancı said that she was housed alone in a cell at her own request. However, she was not allowed to make contact with others detained for political reasons: "In this respect, the state of isolation and seclusion characteristic of the F-type continues."