The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has condemned the knocking down of an 89-year-old doctor during a scuffle at an event marking Medicine Day in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on March 14.
The 89-year-old Prof. Erdinç Köksal was knocked down when police officers tried to stop doctors trying to lay a wreath at Taksim Square to mark the day.
“The intervention against Dr Erdinç Köksal, our representative for the Retired Doctors’ Branch who takes part in all our protests... has been added to the memory and anger of all our doctors,” the TTB said in a statement on March 15.
It added that it condemned the intervention that came days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted doctors who were leaving Turkey over poor working conditions and low wages.
“If they want to leave, let them leave,” he had said in a harsh criticism.
Köksal told Gazete Duvar he had worked as a doctor for 62 years and that every year on March 14 they would lay a wreath at the square.
“For the first time in my life, we were stopped by police,” he said.
“I still don’t understand why a group wearing white coats who have served the people of this country for years were prevented from leaving flowers. I am deeply saddened,” Köksal added.
Healthcare staff at several Istanbul hospitals were on a two-day strike and have said they will carry on their protests until they are granted more rights and their conditions are improved.
Medical employees in Turkey have long complained about inhumane working conditions, such as 36-hour shifts, violence against them by patient relatives and insufficient pay.
Several doctors have left Turkey and moved abroad, seeking better conditions.