BMJ: Tear gas is a chemical weapon, and Turkey should not use it to torture civilians

Peaceful protests in cities throughout Turkey have been met with violence from police. The president of the Turkish Medical Association, Ahmet Ozdemir Aktan, calls for an end to inappropriate use of chemical agents

Millions of Turkish citizens are outraged by the violent interference of the government in peaceful protests aimed at saving Istanbul’s Gezi Park.1 Within a few days this turned into an outcry from protesters all over Turkey, asking for more democracy and freedom from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and, particularly, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

The secular and educated sections of Turkish society are unhappy and frustrated because new laws have been passed that interfere with lifestyles—for example, religion based schools have been encouraged, and a recent law almost forbids drinking alcohol outside the home. With the AKP having a solid majority in the Turkish parliament, these laws have been passed without any due discussion, and many see these as part of Erdogan’s plan to transform Turkish society into some form of Islamic state.

To subdue protesters, excessive use of tear gas, water …

Ahmet Ozdemir Aktan, president, Turkish Medical Association, and surgeon, Marmara University Hospital, Department of Surgery, Pendik, Istanbul, Turkey

Ahmet Özdemir Aktan
11 June 2013