Jailed former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has mocked President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over comments he made about medical doctors leaving Turkey in large numbers or switching to the private sector due to poor working conditions and low pay.
“Isn’t it the state that educates doctors? I am speaking frankly, if they’re going, let them leave,” Erdoğan had said on March 8.
Demirtaş, currently in prison in the northwestern province of Edirne, mockingly said the doctors should be replaced with constructors, outsourcers and members of the pro-government Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA), which has been accused of providing human resources to several state institutions and unfairly placing them without merit.
“With a midnight decree, all pro-government subcontractors, outsourcers, TÜGVA members, etc., should be appointed in place of doctors. All the powdered sugar [drug] users should start the job after they are made to take an oath and become anesthetists,” he said on Twitter.
2- Bir gece yarısı kararnamesiyle tüm yandaş müteahhitler, taşeronlar, TÜGVA’cılar falan doktorların yerine atansın. Pudra şekerciler, hipokrat yemini ettirilip anestezi uzmanı olarak göreve başlatılsın.— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) March 9, 2022
Demirtaş was referring to a former employee of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) headquarters, Kürşat Ayvatoğlu, who said he was snorting powdered sugar when he was seen in a video in which he was purportedly snorting cocaine.
Erdoğan had also drawn the anger of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) for his comments.
“In 2023 [elections], they will go and we will stay. Those with billions of dollars accuse doctors of being greedy for money,” TTB Secretary-General Prof Vedat Bulut said.
In the first 11 months of 2021, the TTB said 1,361 doctors left Turkey, compared to 59 only in 2012. The numbers increased since then, with the highest number seen last year, according to the Middle East Eye.
Doctors have complained about poor working conditions, long shifts and violence from the relatives of patients.