Turkish prosecutor launches probe of ‘unlawful’ circulars for COVID-19 measures

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A Şanlıurfa prosecutor has announced on social media that he recently launched an investigation into circulars released by the Interior Ministry regarding coronavirus measures, including stay-at-home orders, mask requirements and travel bans that he claims are unlawful, local media reported on Tuesday.

Eyyüp Akbulut, a public prosecutor in the Viranşehir district of Şanlıurfa, on Tuesday released a video on YouTube titled “A peace declaration: pandemic, restrictions and law” and stated that he would investigate measures taken against COVID-19 in Turkey knowing that he might lose his job for doing so.

The prosecutor argued in the video, which garnered over 120,000 views within hours, that the measures taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to curb the pandemic, including the vaccination rollout, needed to be investigated in light of the latest scientific data, arguments and allegations against them.

He further claimed that the lack of restrictions, including the requirement to wear masks, in other countries had not led to an increase in daily infections or fatalities.

Many of the steps taken by the government during the pandemic have caused people to suffer and cannot be reconciled with the principles of a state of law, the prosecutor said, noting that he was showing the courage his profession demands while many others who agree with him are afraid to speak out.

“They form teams to convince people to be vaccinated and make them sign a consent form. The ones I examined lacked relevant parts from the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, [developed by the Council of Europe], and the Patient Rights Regulation [of Turkey], which are required by law. Those texts [of consent] were legally garbage,” Akbulut explained.

“I’m not against vaccination. … But, when the majority of the people have hesitations about something that cannot be eliminated by the authorities, this requires an investigation. This is because one cannot talk about informed consent when there are many different allegations [against the vaccines],” he continued.

“I saw many reports by experts in the medical field, which included blood-chilling statements [against the COVID-19 vaccines]. A public prosecutor should take them as tip-offs and launch an investigation,” Akbulut argued, asking people to send him more data on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and other measures to add to his file.

Referring to the crowded indoor rallies held by the AKP earlier in 2021 in defiance of coronavirus measures, which were criticized by many as restrictions didn’t allow businesses to remain open or people to hold funeral or wedding ceremonies in groups of over 30 people, the prosecutor argued that they proved that the restrictions were in fact unnecessary.

According to a report by the Sözcü daily, the Şanlıurfa Governor’s Office announced later the same day that judicial and administrative investigations had been launched into Akbulut.

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