Turkish doctors go on strike after murder of cardiologist by patient

Turkish doctors are going on a strike on July 7 and 8 to protest the murder of cardiologist Ekrem Karakaya by a patient and calling on the government to tackle the growing violence against healthcare workers. Meanwhile, the media watchdog RTÜK has imposed a broadcast ban on the issue, preventing media organs from covering it.

Turkish healthcare staff protest the murder of cardiologist Ekrem Karakaya.

Duvar English 

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced a two-day strike after the murder of cardiologist Ekrem Karakaya by a patient in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.

A statement read out at the TTB headquarters said that the government was partially responsible for such attacks targeting doctors. In reference to previous remarks of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the statement said: “We are calling onto those who said 'Let them go.' One of our colleagues has died. You are also responsible.”

“We are once again saying that we are ready to show our power in every place, in every circumstance for healthy and safe working conditions. We are going on a nationwide strike on July 7 and 8,” the statement said.

Karakaya was killed by patient Hacı Mehmet Akçay while on duty at the Konya City Hospital on July 6. The murderer later committed suicide. The reason of the attack is not yet clear, but it is common for doctors to be targeted by either patients or their relatives in Turkey, leading medical staff to urge the government to adopt harsher measures to protect them from such violence.

Police intervene against protesting healthcare staff with shields, pepper spray 

Healthcare personnel across Turkey on July 7 carried out demonstrations in front of hospitals. A group of doctors gathered in front of Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine in Çapa, from where they wanted to march towards the provincial health directorate. Their attempt however was met with police intervention as they were stopped with shields and pepper gas, daily Evrensel reported. One of the police officers fainted during the brawl and was helped by the protesting healthcare workers. 

Despite all efforts of the police, the healthcare staff managed to break through the blockade and gathered in front of the provincial health directorate. They here shouted slogans calling on Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to resign. 

Karakaya's murder drew severe condemnation from all fractions of society, including politicians. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that the “environment” created by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was responsible for violence against doctors.

“Erdoğan, see the environment you have created. Be ashamed! Take your incapable minister and go away immediately. This is the cost of staying silent to those implementing violence and saying 'Let them go' to the health personnel who are demanding their rights,” Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted.

In March, Erdoğan had condemned doctors for wanting to leave the public sector, saying they were not irreplaceable. “Let them leave if they please,” Erdoğan had said, arguing their demands for better working conditions and pay were unfounded.

Media watchdog RTÜK issues broadcast ban

Meanwhile, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed a broadcast ban on the murder of Karakaya, preventing media organs from covering it. RTÜK made the announcement on its Twitter account, saying that the ban also includes news to be released on social media.