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Turkish Surgeon Mehmet Haberal Elected President of the Transplantation Society

Haberal for web
Mehmet Haberal (right) with his academic colleague Kemal Guruz (left) and former NAS President Bruce Alberts (center)

The CHR is delighted to learn that Turkish transplantation surgeon Mehmet Haberal has been elected head of the international Transplantation Society. He will serve as president-elect from 2016 to 2018 and will be president of the Society from 2018 to 2020. Dr. Haberal, whose case was undertaken by the CHR following his unjust arrest in 2009, is an internationally respected transplantation surgeon. He was the first person in the world to perform both an adult segmental liver transplantation and a living kidney/liver transplantation from a living-related donor. Dr. Haberal also played an instrumental role in the establishment of a number of important medical institutions in Turkey, including the Turkish Organ Transplantation and Burn Foundation, which facilitated organ-sharing and procurement throughout the Middle East, a network of 14 hemodialysis centers throughout Turkey, and a hospital for the care of burns and transplantation. Subsequently, he oversaw the construction of six full-service hospitals throughout Turkey. In addition to his medical work, Dr. Haberal founded Ba┼čkent University near Ankara in 1993, the first private university to teach the health sciences in Turkey, and is the university’s rector.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine brought Dr. Haberal’s case to the attention of the CHR following his arrest in April 2009. He was one of 275 defendants brought to trial in mass proceedings that lasted four years, in what became known as the “Ergenekon Case.” Prosecutors alleged that the defendants had been involved in attempting to provoke the overthrow of the Turkish government by military coup. In February 2013, the CHR and the Human Rights Committee of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina undertook a fact-finding mission to Turkey on behalf of eight scientific colleagues facing serious charges as part of four mass trials. During the mission, the delegates visited Dr. Haberal in Silivri high security prison to express their support for him and to learn more about his case. Following the mission, the delegates published a report in which they called for Dr. Haberal’s immediate and unconditional release from prison on the grounds that no convincing evidence was presented to support the charges brought against him. The CHR, its Correspondents, and members of participating academies in the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies sent many letters to Turkish authorities appealing for Dr. Haberal’s release. (In August 2013, following his conviction, Dr. Haberal was released pending appeal. In early 2016 the convictions in the Ergenekon coup plot were overturned by Turkey’s highest appeals court.)