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Erdogan demands medical association drop 'Turkish' tag over Afrin criticism

Erdogan is publicly waging war with the country's medical association [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 February, 2018

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President Erdogan has demanded the Turkish Medical Association change its name after it publicly criticised Ankara's military campaign in Affrin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the word "Turkish" will be stripped from the Turkish Medical Association, after the organisation weeks ago publicly opposed Ankara's offensive in Afrin, Reuters reported.

The announcement marks the latest escalation in a feud between Erdogan and the 83,000-member body.

Last month, Turkish police issued arrest warrants for all 11 members of the association's executive board.

"This institution has nothing to do with Turkishness and nothing about them is worthy of the notion of Turkishness," Erdogan said in his Thursday remarks about the group.

Erdogan added a new law will ensure the medical association (known by its Turkish acronym TTB) "will not be able to use the notion of Turkishness, nor the name Turkey".

The group has said its right to call itself "Turkish" is enshrined in the country's constitution.

"The comments made to discredit the TTB are met with sadness and amazement by conscientious, civilised people," the TTB added.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the new law will drop TTB membership as a prerequisite to practice medicine in a private practice in Turkey.

The move is widely expected to weaken the group, which has been a frequent critic of Erdogan, and represents 80 per cent of Turkey's doctors.

Turkish authorities have said they would prosecute anyone who criticises Operation Olive Branch, which began on January 20.

The latest measures are part of a wider government crackdown against domestic critics. About 50,000 people have been detained and another 150,000 fired or suspended from their jobs since the failed coup attempt in 2016.

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