Campaigns: Support Turkish objectors

International support for Turkish COs continues to be very important. This page contains links to CO testimony and to recent WRI alerts and reports on the situation of conscientious objectors in Turkey.

WRI Statements

09 Feb 2011

War Resisters' International (WRI), an international network of pacifist and antimilitarist organisations with more than 90 affiliates in more than 40 countries, condemns the persecution of Turkish antimilitarist and feminist Pinar Selek. For 12 years now, Pinar Selek has been under prosecution for a crime she did not commit and in connection with which there is no evidence against her - the so-called bombing of the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul on 09 July 1998. Pinar Selek was arrested in 1998, tortured during investigation and spent two and a half years in prison.

02 Jul 2005

The council meeting of War Resisters' International in Seoul, Korea 30 June - 2 July 2005 demands the immediate release of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan and the full recognition of his right to consceintious objection. Mehmet Tarhan is a well known activist on issues of antimilitarism and gay rights in Turkey. He was arrested on April 8th, 2005, on the grounds he was a "roll call deserter".

CO Alerts

03 Sep 2010

War Resisters' International has been informed that Turkish conscientious objector İnan Suver began a second hunger strike on 1 September 2010. At present, it is not known to WRI what prompted this hunger strike, and what are the demands.

06 Aug 2010

War Resisters' International has been informed today that Turkish conscientious objector İnan Suver has been arrested today while trying to get an ID paper from the office of his municipality. During the check of his identity and came out that his address was listed as the address of a "deserter", and police was called to arrest him. He was first brought to the police station, and later this morning to Bakirkoy court, where his detention was ordered.

01 Apr 2010

War Resisters' International learned today that Turkish conscientious objector Enver Aydemir has been sentenced to ten months imprisonment by an Eskişehir court on Tuesday, on charges of desertion.

Enver Aydemir refuses military service based on his religious beliefs as a Muslim. He refuses to be part of a secularist military.

30 Dec 2009

War Resisters' International received some new information on conscientious objector Enver Aydemir, who had been arrested on 24 December 2009 in Istanbul (see co-alert, 29 December 2009).

According to the information received, Enver Aydemir has now been transferred to Eskisehir Military Prison, where he is wearing a prison uniform, and ended his hunger strike.

29 Dec 2009

Turkish conscientious objector Enver Aydemir was detained on 24 December on his way to a conference on conscientious objection during a random electronic background check by police at the ferry port in Kabataş, Istanbul. An arrest warrant for insubordination and possibly desertion, going back to his earlier arrest in detention in 2007, was discovered, and Enver Aydemir was transferred to Doğancılar police station and then to a military police station.

Other posts

02 Mar 2012

Following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bayatyan v. Armenia in July 2011, and even more so the judgment in the case of Erçep v. Turkey from November 2011, some human rights and conscientious objection activists in Turkey pushed again for the recognition of the right to conscientious objection.

29 Feb 2012

Conscientious objector Savda was arrested and taken to prison upon the approval of a five-month prison sentence on charges of "alienating the public from military service". Amnesty International Turkey and the Human Rights Foundation condemned his arrest.

Conscientious objector Halil Savda was taken into police custody at a hotel in Doğubeyazıt (Ağrı/eastern Turkey) at around six o'clock on Friday morning (24 February). He was brought to the Doğubeyazıt Closed Prison.

27 Feb 2012

Contribution for press conference, Istanbul, 27 February 2012

My name is Andreas Speck, and I am representing War Resisters' International.

WRI is an international antimilitarist network founded in 1921, and is today present in about 40 countries all over the world.

WRI is opposed to all war, because we believe that war is a crime against humanity.

We see conscientious objection not only as a human right, but as a form of resistance to war and militarism.

27 Feb 2012

Dear Press Representatives,

We, conscientious objectors and antimilitarists of Turkey who oppose compulsory military service based on various motivations as beliefs, political and conscientious convictions held a meeting in Istanbul on 25-26 February 2012 with the participation of representatives from the Quaker United Nations Office, Amnesty International, the War Resisters’ International and Connection e.V.

17 Jan 2012



(Requête no 5260/07)



17 janvier 2012

Cet arrêt deviendra définitif dans les conditions définies à l’article 44 § 2 de la Convention. Il peut subir des retouches de forme.

En l’affaire Feti Demirtaş c. Turquie,

La Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (deuxième section), siégeant en une chambre composée de :

Françoise Tulkens, présidente,
Danutė Jočienė,
Dragoljub Popović,
Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre,
András Sajó,
Işıl Karakaş,
Guido Raimondi, juges,

21 Dec 2011

Report to the Human Rights Committee, 104th Session

London, December 2011


War Resisters' International is concerned about grave violations of human rights of conscientious objectors and antimilitarists in Turkey. The main issues are:

  • Turkey maintains conscription, and still does not recognise the right to conscientious objection.

  • Conscientious objectors are often sentenced repeatedly for refusing military service, on charges of desertion, disobedience or insubordination, in violation of article 18 and article 14 ICCPR (ne bis in idem).

  • While in prison, conscientious objectors often face abuse and maltreatment either from the side of the prison authorities, or also from fellow prisoners.

  • Even after their release from prison, conscientious objectors often live in a legal limbo, a situation the European Court of Human Rights called “civil death” - being unable to marry, to legal register a child, to legally work, get a passport, or engage in any way with the authorities. The same applies to those who declared their conscientious objection, but have never been arrested.

  • Conscientious objectors and pacifists often face trials on charges of “alienating the people from the military” (article 318 Turkish Penal Code) for criticising the military, or talking about conscientious objection, in violation of article 19 ICCPR.

01 Dec 2011

On 22 November 2011, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights reaffirmed the right to conscientious objection in its judgement in the case of Erçep v. Turkey (application no. 43965/04). The case concerned a Jehovah's Witness from Turkey, who had been repeatedly imprisoned for his refusal to perform military service following approximately 15 call-ups.

08 Jun 2011

39437/98 Ülke, judgment of 24/01/2006, final on 24/04/2006

Interim Resolution CM/ResDH(2007)109 and CM/ResDH(2009)45,

DD(2009)556, DD(2010)107


The Deputies,

1. took note of the information provided by the Turkish authorities during the meeting that the applicant in this case is not deprived of his liberty;

2. regretted, however, that no information has been provided regarding as to whether the applicant is still being searched for or not;

05 Jan 2011

By Hilal Demir, War Resisters' International

Why did we, Turkish women, declare conscientious objection though we are not subject to compulsory military service in Turkey? Here I record some problems and dynamics of conscientious objection, the contributions of women’s conscientious objection declarations to the movement, and the resulting discussions.

Living in a patriarchal culture, I think that all the opposition movements, including feminism, have the continuous risk of becoming “masculinized”. This is a risk so strong as to cause the fading away of most movements.

Forum posts

14 Aug 2012

Criticized in the previous years for asking gays to bring photos of them taken during sexual intercourse in order for them to receive a so-called “rotten” (unfit) report that would exempt them from mandatory military service, Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) now gave up on this method and found a derivative of it.

01 Aug 2012

Turkey’s first conscientious objector to mandatory military service passed away at the age of 54 due to a heart attack on Monday night. A doctor by training, Tayfun Gönül had made critical contributions to the antimilitarist movement in Turkey, according to his friends.

BIA News Center
31 July 2012, Tuesday

27 Jun 2012

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said his ministry is continuing to work on options for dealing with conscientious objectors.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the minister said their efforts are aimed at protecting the Turkish state from new fines to be imposed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) due to Turkey's policy of mandatory military service. In Turkey, military service is compulsory for all male citizens over the age of 20; however, if a man is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, he is allowed to delay his service until he completes his education.

22 May 2012

At the end of Conscientious Objection Week, 14 people declared their conscientious objections following the march from Tünel to Taksim Square.

At the end of Conscientious Objection Week, conscientious objectors and anti-militarists came together at Tunel district and marched to Taksim Square. Following the march and the press statement, 14 people declared their conscientious objections.

10 Apr 2012

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

The new constitution being prepared is an opportunity to introduce alternative forms of military service and an individual right to object to using a gun or oppose all military service activities, conscientious objectors tell a commission working on the new charter, highlighting a European Council decision favoring such rights.

The Conscientious Objectors Platform made a presentation at Parliament’s constitution-making commission yesterday to demand the right for males to opt out of compulsory military service.

12 Mar 2012

The Malatya Military Court claimed that decisions of the ECHR regarding conscientious objection could also be applied to domestic law in the scope of Article 90 of the Constitution. This landmark ruling was the result of the trial against conscientious objector Delice.

Malatya - Izmir - Bia News Agency

12 March 2012, Monday

29 Feb 2012

Conscientious objector Savda was arrested and taken to prison upon the approval of a five-month prison sentence on charges of "alienating the public from military service". Amnesty International Turkey and the Human Rights Foundation condemned his arrest.

Conscientious objector Halil Savda was taken into police custody at a hotel in Doğubeyazıt (Ağrı/eastern Turkey) at around six o'clock on Friday morning (24 February). He was brought to the Doğubeyazıt Closed Prison.

21 Jun 2010

Posted: 21 June 2010

On 17 June 2010 human rights defender Halil Savda and three other activists were convicted under Article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code which criminalises ‘alienating the public from military service’. The case was opened against them following their attendance at a public demonstration on 6 January 2010 in support of conscientious objector and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Enver Aydemir, who had been in military detention since 24 December 2009 for refusing to perform military service.

11 Jun 2010

Conscientious objector Aydemir was relaeased upon an "incapability report". His lawyer criticized that the legislation lacks provisions on conscientious objection. Turkey is one of three countries of the European Council that does not recognize the right to conscientious objection.

Istanbul - BİA News Center
11 June 2010, Friday

20 Nov 2009

19 November 2009
Amnesty International has welcomed the conviction of three Turkish soldiers for “intentionally wounding” a conscientious objector while he was in military custody.

A military court in Istanbul sentenced the soldiers to three months and 10 days' imprisonment on 13 November for the “intentional wounding” of Mehmet Bal in June 2008.

Mehmet Bal was arrested for evading military service on 8 June and detained at Hasdal Military Prison in Istanbul.