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article imageErdogan says anti-war doctors group should lose 'Turkish' status

By AFP     Feb 6, 2018 in Politics

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on the government to strip Turkey's main medical association of the adjective "Turkish" in its name after it vehemently opposed the military operation in Syria.

Erdogan accused members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) of backing "terrorists" after its central council came out against the campaign in Syria against Kurdish militia launched on January 20.

The council had said "war is a man-made public health problem" and called for peace. All of its 11 members were detained, although they have subsequently been granted conditional release.

The Turkish leader has repeatedly made clear that he regards the so-called operation Olive Branch as a "national struggle" and that opposing it from the sidelines amounts to treachery.

"Having the word 'Turkish' in a name is something granted by the cabinet. And there it should be removed quickly," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.

He said the same step should also be made with the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), the country's main grouping of lawyers, which has on occasion been bitterly critical of Erdogan.

He said the two associations "are not on our side in our struggle to protect the fatherland," he said, quoted by the Anadolu news agency.

"We have situations, on the contrary, where some are defending terrorists and on their side," Erdogan said.

Turkey regards the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) and its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing as terror groups although this position is not shared by its Western allies.

The TTB association has over 83,000 members representing 80 percent of Turkey's doctors.

Authorities launched an investigation into its members last week, accusing them of "propaganda for a terror organisation" and "inciting hatred and hostility".

The head of the TBB lawyers' association Metin Feyzioglu -- who in 2014 gave a critical speech that famously prompted a furious Erdogan to walk out of a ceremony -- said he had listened to the president's remarks with "amazement".

"It's quite clear that Mr President has been wrongly informed," he said, insisting that the TBB was "with the soldiers and the people".

He said while the government could remove words from a sign "they will absolutely not be able to wipe us from the hearts of the Turkish people".

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