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Doctors’ union chair arrested due to chemical weapons remarks

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The head of Turkey’s doctors’ union, who was detained on Wednesday on allegations of spreading “terrorist propaganda” after she urged a probe into the army’s alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurdish militants, was arrested by a court of law following her interrogation by prosecutors, according to Turkish media.

Şebnem Korur Fincancı, 63, a forensic expert and a prominent human rights activist, was taken into custody at her home in İstanbul on Wednesday and was brought to Ankara for questioning.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Fincancı on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and insulting the state due to her remarks about the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) alleged use of chemical weapons against militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq. Fincancı said she had examined video images and called for a probe.

Turkey has strongly rejected the allegations that appeared in media outlets close to the PKK that its army was using chemical weapons in its counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.

Meanwhile, Turkish police on Wednesday broke up a demonstration in İstanbul protesting Fincancı’s detention and briefly detained 57 people, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Thursday, citing data from the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD).

The protestors were members of the İstanbul Labor, Peace and Democracy Forces and Women Are Strong Together Platform, who were prevented from reading a statement, DW said.

The police intervention became more violent when the protestors started shouting slogans, according to DW, with reporters cleared from the area so they couldn’t take pictures of any ill treatment of the protestors.

The 57 people who were detained after police broke up the protest were released after giving a statement at the police station and undergoing a health check as required by law, the ÇHD said in a series of tweets posted in the early hours of Thursday, adding that they were all accused of “breaking Law No. 2911 on assemblies and demonstrations” with some also accused of “insulting a public officer.”

Fincancı is frequently targeted by the Turkish government and the victim of judicial harassment for standing up against widespread human rights violations in the country, which reached new heights following a failed coup in July 2016.

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