Two medical students from Ankara and Hacettepe Universities who asked to remain anonymous spoke to soL news portal about their experiences as medical students and what they say as misguided notions surrounding the Day of Medicine.
They began by stating that even by just looking at school cafeterias and listening to students talk solely about classes, grades and internships, all of which they cannot keep up with, it is possible to get a sense of just how much they are all concerned about their futures.
“Students do not particularly look forward to the Day of Medicine. Even so, when we look at the history of March 14, we see a major difference between what it used to be and what it is today. During World War I, it was a day when medical students stood together against the occupation. Today it is a day celebrated with parties at luxurious hotels.” They also stated that even students who are usually not interested in these sort of events get excited with the announcement of the Day of Medicine Ball, and that their school management encourages the event as a commercial activity.
They emphasized just how little medical students know about the importance of the day and how they only see it as a day to have fun. The two students suggested that the reason for the lack of understanding of the origins of the day is a product of an effort to keep medical students complacent. “The Day of Medicine should be remembered as the day our colleagues started the struggle, not as a day to party...It is still our mission to fight against imperialist tyranny,” they concluded.
A hundred years after medical students protested the occupation by British troops, the March 14th Day of Medicine is seen by doctors and medical students as a day to “party,” not as a day to memorialize their colleagues’ struggle against imperialist forces.
Istanbul was occupied in November 1918 during the First World War. Within the first four months of the occupation, British troops confiscated the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane (Imperial Medicine School). Third-year students at the school organized a protest against the occupation. They informed the school that they would organize a celebratory meeting to commemorate the schools’ ninety-second year; in fact their purpose was to show the occupation forces that medical students stood against them, to show the British who İstanbul belonged to. It was a rise against imperialist forces.
Mahmut Necdet, a medical student at the time, looked right into the eyes of the Red Cross authorities’ and the British soldiers’ and said: “We admit that our motherland, especially its center, is going through a crisis. But we are not afraid...We are here and we will stay here. İstanbul is ours.”