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Onur Hamzaoğlu

Onur Hamzaoğlu


Onur Hamzaoğlu is a professor of public health, who was dismissed from his position in Kocaeli University in 2016 by an emergency decree. He is an active member of the Turkish Medical Association that advocates for health professionals’ and patients’ rights in Turkey. The Association also supports the full democratization of Turkey. Onur Hamzaoğlu drew public attention following his research throughout the 2000s on the severe health implications of industrial pollution in Dilovasi, Kocaeli and was subjected to disciplinary action by his university for “inducing panic in the public by disseminating false information on cancer”. He is also a member of Academics for Peace and signed the 2016 peace petition “We will not be a party to this crime!”.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey have been subjected to judicial harassment, including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment. In the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, the environment for the work of HRDs deteriorated even further.

Through the wide-ranging use of State of Emergency laws, the Turkish government has significantly infringed on the rights to freedom of expression, media, assembly, and association, and has particularly restricted the liberty of those engaged in human rights work. These laws enable even further human rights violations, as HRDs often do not have the freedom to monitor the activities of the security forces, who have been granted extensive powers.