The case of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan

Related peace activists: 

Back to:Mehmet loves Bariş* Documentation: Conscientious objection in Turkey

TURKEY:objector Mehmet Tarhan arrested

TK14724-080405 08/04/05 19:03

Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724) has been arrested today at 5am in the morning in a hotel in Basmane, a district of Izmir, where he went to work at a book fair. He was taken to a police station and held there until the military recruitment office opened. He was then brought to the recruitment office, and asked to sign papers to be sent to a military unit.

Mehmet Tarhan replied: "You brought me here by force. I am a conscientious objector and won't sign anything." He was subsequently asked to write a statement that he is a conscientious objector. He replied: "I will not write or sign anything. You brought me here by force and you should solve the problem you created yourself." As a result, the former protocol was extended with a supplementary protocol, stating that he refused to sign both of them. In addition, the recruitment officers called for their superiors. Three higher officers appeared on the scene. While Mehmet Tarhan was until then allowed to sit in the garden and to smoke, he was now "attached" to a recruit, who was told that his service would be nullified if Mehmet Tarhan would escape. The recruitment office also called the police, and requested a squad to guard Mehmet Tarhan. Three police were assigned to that task.

Later gendarmes (military police) were summoned to take over Mehmet Tarhan and to bring him to a military training unit in Tokat, to which he was hurriedly reassigned (he had originally been assigned to a military unit in Samsun). Mehmet Tarhan refused to cooperate, and was handcuffed and pushed into a car. It is not clear where he will be brought. Mehmet Tarhan declared that he is now on hunger strike.

War Resisters' International is concerned about the treatment of Mehmet Tarhan, and fears for his health and safety. He is at risk of physical abuse by the military police.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Turkish authorities, and Turkish embassies abroad. Protest emails should be sent to the General Staff, email gnkur@tsk.mil.tr . A protest email can be sent at http://wri.irg.org/co/alerts/20050408a.html .

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

TURKEY:Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan to be tried on 28 April

TK14724-150405 15/04/05 19:02

Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan will be tried in the military court of Sivas on 28 April 2005, 9:00am. As reported in an earlier co-alert on 8 April (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20050408a.html), Mehmet Tarhan had been arrested on 8 April 2005 early in the morning. He was then brought to a military unit in Tokat, accompanied by military police. Because Mehmet Tarhan is refusing to co-operate in any way, he was then transferred to the military prison in Sivas. Mehmet Tarhan is a gay and anarchist activist. He declared his conscientious objection on 27 October 2001, and continued anti-war activities in public ever since, without going into hiding. Mehmet Tarhan is now being charged with Article 88 Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK), "Insubordination in front of the unit". This charge carries a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment.

More information and pictures of Mehmet Tarhan can be found at http://www.savaskarsitlari.org/mehmettarhan/. Most of the information is in Turkish though.

War Resisters' International calls for a continued campaign of protest letters and email to the Turkish authories, and Turkish embassies abroad. A protest email to the General Staff headquarters can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050408a.html. Vigils and demonstrations in front of Turkish consulates and embassies can also be effective. A list of Turkish embassies abroad can be found at http://www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA/Ministry/TurkishRepresentations/searchRepresentatives.htm.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

TURKEY: Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan transferred to hospital by force - forcefully undressed and forced to wear uniform

TK14724-200405 20/04/05 17:24

Turkish gay conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan was today transferred to the Sivas Military Hospital by force, where he was undressed and forced to wear a military uniform. He has also been attacked by other prisoners, who had been told that "a terrorist" would be sent to the hospital. Mehmet Tarhan was t ransferred to the military hospital following an order of the General Attorney dated 19 April 2005. The hospital is asked to produce a report on his homosexuality, which the Turkish military - in contradiction to international standards - views as an illness, which would allow the military to discharge Mehmet Tarhan from military service. In his declaration of conscientious objection in 2001, Mehmet Tarhan rejected this option: "I preceive the unfit (or 'rotten') report given as a 'right' based on my homosexuality as an expression of the rotteness of the militarist system itself." Mehmet Tarhan's lawyers pointed out after a meeting with the attorney that any medical examination of Mehmet Tarhan against his will is a form of torture, and demanded that these unlawful practices be stopped immediately. It is expected that Mehmet Tarhan will be examined on Tuesday, 26 April, two days before his trial.War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan, and an immediate end to any medical examination against his will. War Resisters' International calls for Mehmet Tarhan to be treated as a conscientious objector. Any discharge for reasons of his homosexuality is a discrimination based on sexual orientation, and a violation of international human rights standards. War Resisters' International urgently calls for protest faxes to the Military Hospital in Sivas: +90-346-2253915 (Please write Hastanenin dikkatine (to the attention of the hospital) in big letters on the top)

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

TURKEY: Trial against Mehmet Tarhan adjourned. New CO arrested

TK14724-14728-280405

The trial against conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724), who has been arrested on 8 April 2005 (see TK14724-080405 - http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/ 20050408a.html) has been adjourned to 26 May today. At the end of the trial, Sahin Ozbay (TK14728), who had declared his conscientious objection on 4 October 2004, was arrested. It is expected that he will be brought to the recruitment office and then transferred to "his" military unit, and will follow the fate of Mehmet Tarhan. The trial against Mehmet Tarhan has been adjourned to 26 May, so that the court can hear witness statements from 10 soldiers, who witnessed Mehmet Tarhan's "insubordination in front of his unit", according to Article 88 of the Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK). This charge carries a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment. The trial was attended by a group of Turkish supporters and conscientious objectors, and two international observers, who formed an international delegation organised by War Resisters' International. Tina Kemler from Germany and Eldad Zion from Israel reported on the arrest of Sahin Ozbay and the adjournment of the trial, and are presently discussing further action with the Turkish supporters. War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objectors Mehmet Tarhan and Sahin Ozbay (1).

War Resisters' International calls for a continued campaign of protest letters and email to the Turkish authories, and Turkish embassies abroad. A protest email to the General Staff headquarters can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050408a.html . Vigils and demonstrations in front of Turkish consulates and embassies can also be effective. A list of Turkish embassies abroad can be found at http://www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA/Ministry/TurkishRepresentations/ searchRepresentatives.htm.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

(1) Sahin Ozbay was released in the afternoon of the same day.

TURKEY: FEAR OF TORTURE / Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan abused by other prisoners

TK14724-240505

War Resisters' International fears for the safety of imprisoned Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, presently awaiting trial in the Military Prison of Sivas. As reported in an earlier co-alert on 8 April (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/ 20050408a.html), Mehmet Tarhan had been arrested on 8 April 2005 early in the morning. He was then brought to a military unit in Tokat, accompanied by military police. Because Mehmet Tarhan is refusing to co-operate in any way, he was then transferred to the military prison in Sivas. Mehmet Tarhan is a gay and anarchist activist. He declared his conscientious objection on 27 October 2001, and continued anti-war activities in public ever since, without going into hiding. Mehmet Tarhan is now being charged with Article 88 Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK), "Insubordination in front of the unit". This charge carries a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment. A first trial on 28 April 2005 was adjourned to 26 May, to call several soldiers from his unit as witnesses.

Meanwhile, Mehmet Tarhan is imprisoned in the Military Prison of Sivas, where he is facing death threats and abuse. Suna Coskun, Mehmet Tarhan's lawyer, reported on the abuse her client faces today. On arrival at the Military Prison in Sivas, staff sergeant Mustafa Selvi threatened Mehmet Tarhan with transfer to "Common Cell No 2", where the "wildest" prisoners are imprisoned. Later Mehmet Tarhan was ordered to enter "Common Cell No 1" on his own. The cell was dark, and the inmates (which Mehmet Tarhan could not see) ordered him to sit down on a chair next to the door. They started to ask questions. They wanted to know whether he was a terrorist or traiter, in which case they would kill him. Then the inmates started to beat Mehmet Tarhan, and insulted him because of his long hair. Prisoner Ertan Mertoglu showed his weapon to Mehmet Tarhan and threatened to kill him. This attacked was ended by other prisoners. Mehmet Tarhan was then transferred to the dormitory, where a few moments later the same prisoners attacked him again. The beat him everywhere and pulled on his hair. The attack turned into an act of lynching. After 20 minutes, other prisoners again stopped the attack. After the attack in Common Cell No 2, the light bulbs in the cell were tightened again, so that the normal light in the cells was made to work again. This indicates that the attack had been prepared. Later, the prisoners who beat Mehmet Tarhan came to him and told him that staff sergeant Mustafa Selvi had told them that he was a terrorist, and "you know how you have to deal with him". They said that this was the reason they beat him. Mehmet Tarhan was then transferred to a single cell, but during each time Mehmet Tarhan left the cell, the prisoners Ertan Mertoglu, Hakki Dincel, Ersoy Özbulduk, and Ercan Kizilboga threatened him. They told him: "We could have killed you on the first day if we wanted. But we still can do it." Mehmet Tarhan was fearing of his life, and therefore did not tell anyone. But then the prisoners demanded first money, and later clothes, and telephone cards. On 29 April, the prisoners Hakki Dincel, Ersoy Özbulduk, and Ertan Mertoglu demanded 500YTL (about 290 EUROs) and added he would know what to expect, if he would not pay. Mehmet Tarhan answered that he is unable to pay such an amount. One week later he submitted to the threats and handed over 300YTL to Ercan Kizilboga and Ertan Mertoglu. Then, his extortioners demanded clothers. On 9 May 2005 they demanded three black suits. To guarantee that he would deliver, they forced him to call his sister and listened during the phone conversation. On 11 May 2005, Emine Tarhan brought two black suits, shoes, ties, and shirts to the prison, which were handed over to Ertan Mertoglu by the prison authorities. Mehmet Tarhan's upper lip and the right side of his lower lip cracked as a result of these attacks. He is suffering ecchymosis at the chin, the neck, and other parts of his body. As a result of being beaten on his chest he suffered from breathing problems until 30 April. In the following days, he contiunously lost hair. Because of being beaten on his knee, legs, and feet he suffered from ecchymosis there, and for a long time had difficulties standing up.

Mehmet Tarhan informed the prison authorities about the abuse on his first day. As the report above shows, the prison authorities did do nothing to stop the abuse, and actively encouraged other prisoners to abuse Mehmet Tarhan. After her visit on 19 May, Mehmet Tarhan's lawyer Suna Coskun alerted the prison authorities, and demanded an examination of Mehmet Tarhan, and a new lock for Mehmet Tarhan's cell. On 20 May, the prison authorities recorded the abuse, and promised to ensure his safety. However, War Resisters' International and Mehmet Tarhans friends and lawyers still fear for his safety.

War Resisters' International urgently calls for letters of protest to the Turkish authorities, and Turkish embassies, demanding from the Turkish government to ensure the safety of Mehmet Tarhan. Letters should be addressed to the Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, email cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr.

A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050524a.html.

War Resisters' International appeals to international organisations to pressure Turkey to ensure the safety of Mehmet Tarhan.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

TURKEY: 13 arrests at trial of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan / trial adjourned to 9 June

TK14724-14738-14739-14740-260505 26/05/05 12:13

13 antimilitarists and conscientious objectors were arrested in Sivas following the trial of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan. The trial began early in the morning, and Mehmet Tarhan clearly showed signs of physical abuse - he had bruises all over his body, and could not walk well because of the ongoing abuse (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20050524a.html). Mehmet Tarhan's lawyer asked for Mehmet Tarhan to be acquitted, but the judge adjourned the trial to 9 June. Presently, War Resisters' International is again considering an international delegation for the trial. After the trial, the police arrested three conscientious objectors: Erdem Yalcinkaya (TK14738) declared his conscientious objection together with Mehmet Tarhan on 27 October 2001, Mustafa Seyhoglu (TK14739) declared his conscientious objection on 24 January 2003, and Ersan Ugur Gor (TK14740) declared his conscientious objection on 15 May 2004, during the militurizm festival in Istanbul. They are presently held at the police station in Sivas, and it is feared that they will be brought to the recruitment office, and from there to their military units, and to military prison. Other activists tried to block the police, to prevent the police from pushing the arrested conscientious objectors into the police van. The police violently broke up the nonviolent blockade, and arrested ten antimilitarists under charges of "assaulting the police". These 10 antimilitarists are presently also held at Sivas Police station.

War Resisters' International is very concerned about the recent developments in Turkey. War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes and emails to: General Staff of the Turkish Military: Fax +90-312-4250813 Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312-4271330, email cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr Sivas Military Prison: Fax +90- 346-2253915 A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050526a.html.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of all arrested conscientious objectors and antimilitarists.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

TURKEY: All arrested activists released / 4th CO briefly arrested

TK14724-14738-14739-14740-270505 27/05/05 12:19

During the night all activists who remained in police custody were released. The three conscientious objectors Ersan Ugur Gor, Erdem Yalcinkaya, and Mustafa Sehoglu were brought to the recruitment office, which was opened especially to deal with them. At the recruitment office their ID cards were taken, and they were told to come back in the morning, when they would be given back their ID cards. They were then released. During the night, a fourth conscientious objector, Hasan Cimen, who was sleeping in a car in front of a friends house, was briefly arrested by police. He too was brought to the recruitment office in the middle of the night, and was released with the order to report to the recruitment office in the morning. His ID card was also taken off him. Hasan Cimen declared his conscientious objection on 15 May 2000.

Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724) has been returned to the military prison after the trial, and began a hunger strike in protest against the abuse and mistreatment.

War Resisters' International is extremly concerned about these new developments.<?P?>

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes and emails to: General Staff of the Turkish Military: Fax +90-312- 4250813 Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312- 4271330, email cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr
Sivas Military Prison: Fax +90-346-2253915 A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050526a.html .

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of all arrested conscientious objectors and antimilitarists.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

TURKEY: Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan released from prison - but not from the military

TK14724-100605 10/06/05 12:12

The trial session today of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724) in Sivas in Turkey ended with a small surprise: the military judge ordered Mehmet Tarhan, who had been arrested in Izmir on 8 April, to be released. Mehmet Tarhan, who is charged with Article 88 TACK (insubordination in front of the unit) had to be released, so the judge, because he already spent two months in prison, which is about the time he would have to serve in prison if finally sentenced. The trial itself was adjourned, but the date of the next trial session is not yet known. Mehmet Tarhan, who showed visible signs of physical weakness after suffering from abuse and threats by fellow prisoners and two weeks of hunger strike (which he started after the last trial session on 26 May, in protest against the authorities inaction following the reporting of the abuse), was transferred to the recruitment office, which decided to transfer him back to the military unit by military police. It is expected that he will be brought to Tokat today.

This means, the cycle of military order, refusal, prison and trial will start again immediately - a cycle, which is in violation of international legal standards. In the case of Turkish conscientious objector Osman Murat Ulke the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention decided in 1999 (Opinion 36/1999) that any detention of a conscientious objector after an initial detention following a first act of refusal is "arbitrary, being contrary to article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Given the history of abuse and illtreatment of Mehmet Tarhan during his time in the military prison in Sivas, War Resisters' International is extremely concerned that this illtreatment will resume on Mehmet Tarhans return to the prison in Sivas in the next days.

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes and emails to: General Staff of the Turkish Military: Fax +90-312- 4250813 Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312- 4271330, email cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr
Sivas Military Prison: Fax +90-346-2253915 A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050526a.html .

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

TURKEY: Update on conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan

TK14724-160605 16/06/05 12:32

Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan (see previous alerts at http://wri-irg.org/co/turkcampaign-en.htm) has been returned to the military prison in Sivas following his "release" from military prison on 9 June. To summarise the events: At the trial session on 9 June, the military judge ordered Mehmet Tarhan, who had been arrested in Izmir on 8 April, to be released.

Mehmet Tarhan, who is charged with Article 88 TACK (insubordination in front of the unit) had to be released, so the judge, because he already spent two months in prison, which is about the time he would have to serve in prison if finally sentenced. The trial itself was adjourned, but the date of the next trial session is not yet known. Mehmet Tarhan, who showed visible signs of physical weakness after suffering from abuse and threats by fellow prisoners and two weeks of hunger strike (which he started at the previous trial session on 25 May, in protest against the authorities' inaction following the reporting of the abuse), was transferred to the recruitment office. A decision to transfer him back to the military unit in Tokat was made by ASAL, the Central Office for Recruitment in Ankara, and Mehmet Tarhan was sent to Tokat on 10 June. He spent the weekend at the military unit, and was transferred back to Sivas on 13 June, where he spent one night at the military hospital, and was then sent back to the military prison in Sivas. This is not only a violation of the human right to conscientious objection, but also a violation of Article 14 paragraph 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): “No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure.”

In 1999, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention already ruled against Turkey in the case of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke that every detention following an initial detention is arbitrary, and called on the Government “to take necessary steps to remedy the situation so as to bring it into line with the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” (Opinion 36/1999) That the Turkish authorities, 6 years later, again ignore these basic principles of human rights highlights their ignorance of human rights.

Mehmet Tarhan is still on hunger strike, demanding his safety in prison and a treatment equal to other prisoners - for example, he receives letters late or sometimes not at all. He is now in the third week of his hunger strike.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Mehmet Tarhan.
Mehmet Tarhan
5. Piyade Egitim Tugayi
Askeri Cezaevi
Temeltepe - Sivas
Turkey

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes and emails to:

  • General Staff of the Turkish Military: Fax +90-312-4250813
  • Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312-4271330, email cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr
  • A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050616a.html .
  • Sivas Military Prison 5. Piyade Egitim Tugayi, Askeri Cezaevi, Temeltepe - Sivas, Turkey. Fax +90-346-2253915
  • Central Office for Recruitment Ankara, MSB ASKERALMA DAIRESI BASKANLIGI 06100 BAKANLIKLAR/ANKARA Fax +90-312-4193674 email msbasal@asal.msb.gov.tr. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050616b.htm

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

TURKEY: Update on Conscientious Objector Mehmet Tarhan / hunger strike ended

TK14724-220605

Turkish Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, imprisoned at the military prison in Sivas, ended his hunger strike in the morning of 21 June 2005. He began the hunger strike on 25 May 2005, in protest against maltreatment in the prison and the inaction of the prison authorities to protect him. After 28 days of hunger strike, the prison authorities accepted his demands. Mehmet Tarhan said in a press statement, made with the help of his lawyer Suna Coskun, that he had chosen to end his hunger strike after the prison management had chosen to accept his conditions. After his release from prison on 9 June, Mehmet Tarhan was returned to the military unit in Tokat, and then back to the military prison in Sivas (see the last update from 16 June: http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20050616a.html).

The prison authorities accepted Mehmet Tarhan's demands for equal treatment. As he is in a cell of his own (to protect him from abuse by other prisoners), he is given a TV, is able to make his own tea, has access to books and should receive his mail regulary. Yesterday, the prison authorities accepted his demand for an examination by civilian physicians, and yesterday morning to physicians from the Medical Association of Sivas examined Mehmet Tarhan in prison, and declared him of good health. The necessary treatment after the end of 28 days of hunger strike has begun.

In a separate development, the lawyers have been informed that the first hearing in the case of his second refusal to obey orders (after his "release" from military prison on 9 June) will be on 12 July at the Military Court of Sivas.

This is not only a violation of the human right to conscientious objection, but also a violation of Article 14 paragraph 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): “No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure.” In 1999, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention already ruled against Turkey in the case of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke that every detention following an initial detention is arbitrary, and called on the Government “to take necessary steps to remedy the situation so as to bring it into line with the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” (Opinion 36/1999) That the Turkish authorities, 6 years later, again ignore these basic principles of human rights highlights their ignorance of human rights.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Mehmet Tarhan.
Mehmet Tarhan
5. Piyade Egitim Tugayi
Askeri Cezaevi
Temeltepe - Sivas
Turkey

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes and emails to:

  • General Staff of the Turkish Military: Fax +90-312-4250813
  • Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312-4271330, email cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr
  • A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050616a.html .
  • Sivas Military Prison 5. Piyade Egitim Tugayi, Askeri Cezaevi, Temeltepe - Sivas, Turkey. Fax +90-346-2253915
  • Central Office for Recruitment Ankara, MSB ASKERALMA DAIRESI BASKANLIGI 06100 BAKANLIKLAR/ANKARA Fax +90-312-4193674 email msbasal@asal.msb.gov.tr. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050616b.htm

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

Statement on the trial of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan

Istanbul, 11 June 2005

I came to Turkey as part of an international delegation to observer the trial against conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan in Sivas, on 9 June 2005. This was the second delegation organised by War Resisters' International, an international network with 80 affiliated organisations in 40 countries, since the arrest of Mehmet Tarhan on 8 April 2005, and the start of his trial for “insubordination in front of his unit” on 28 April 2005.

  1. Mehmet Tarhan exercises his right to conscientious objection, as derived from Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a party. The fact that Turkey did not introduce any national legislation to implement this right does not nullify Mehmet Tarhan's human right to conscientious objection -- it merely highlights the Turkish governments attitude towards human rights.
  2. While in prison, Mehmet Tarhan was subjected to illtreatment and abuse from other prisoners, orchestrated by or at least tolerated by the prison authorities. The failure of the authorities to act on this immediately is of grave concern, and is a neglect of the authorities' responsibility towards persons in custody. On 26 May, Mehmet Tarhan began a hunger strike against the authorities failure to fulfil their responsibility to protect Mehmet Tarhan from abuse and illtreatment.
  3. Although the court ordered Mehmet Tarhan's release from military prison on 9 June, the military authorities responded to this only be transferring him again to his military unit in Tokat, where the cycle of military order, refusal, and imprisonment will begin again. Within a few days, Mehmet Tarhan will be back in the military prison in Sivas, and a second trial will be opened. This is not only a violation of the human right to conscientious objection, but also a violation of Article 14 paragraph 7 of the ICCPR: “No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure.” In 1999, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention already ruled against Turkey in the case of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke that every detention following an initial detention is arbitrary, and called on the Government “to take necessary steps to remedy the situation so as to bring it into line with the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” (Opinion 36/1999) That the Turkish authorities, 6 years later, again ignore these basic principles of human rights highlights their ignorance of human rights.
  4. War Resisters' International will continue to work with Mehmet Tarhan's Turkish supporters, and with other European and international organisations, to highlight the situation of Mehmet Tarhan, and to fight for his release from prison and from the military. We will especially raise these issues with the relevant bodies of the European Union, to highlight Turkey policy of “doublespeak” on human rights, and to make sure that the treatment of conscientious objectors is an issue in the talks about Turkey's EU membership.
  5. In the present situation, only the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan from prison and from the military can be seen as in line with Turkey's commitment to international human rights standards. War Resisters' International therefore demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mehmet Tarhan.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International
Istanbul, 11 June 2005

Mehmet Tarhan: declaration of conscientious objection

On 27 October 2001, two antimilitarists from Ankara, Mehmet Tarhan and Erdem Yalç0nkaya, declared their conscientious objection (to compulsory military service) at a press conference held at the Human Rights Association (IHD). The libertarian gay&lesbian group "Kaos GL", the "Initiative against War and Domination" from Istanbul and the IHD also declared their support for conscientious objection at the same venue.

A few hours later a group of (approximately 25) anarchists walked through the city center of Ankara, holding banners and chanting slogans. The unauthorized demonstration continued with the pronouncement of the groups' anti-war manifesto and ended without any detention or police intervention.

CO declaration of Mehmet Tarhan

The bombs that were thrown on the Afghan people just yesterday and will be thrown on the Iraqi people tomorrow are deceptively associated with the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11 and killed thousands, and with the armament of Iraq. Thereby the whole world is expected to join in these attacks. I curse every kind of violence and believe that joining or condoning violence will only result in new violent incidents and will make everybody complicit responsible for the subsequent traumas. I think that wars caused by power mongering states are first and foremost a violation of the right to live. The violation of the right to live is a crime against humanity and no international convention or law can justify this crime, regardless of any rationale. I therefore declare that I won't be an agent of such crime under any circumstances. I will not serve any military apparatus.

I long for a humanity, which has left power scheming behind, has abandoned borders, is nonviolent, and lives in harmony with nature. The practical absence of such an existence does not necessitate dropping my struggle to promote it.

I don't believe in the necessity of the institution called the state and I don't feel loyalty to any state.

The state that claims me as its citizen wants to recruit me for its own sake, to turn me into a death machine, and to make me complicit in the crime against humanity that I have just discussed..

I won't let this happen and will preserve my beliefs.

The report that classifies me as 'unfit' (or 'rotten') because I am gay and affords me the 'right' to exemption from military service is nothing more than a sign of the rottenness of the state itself.

As an individual I am determined not to serve any kind of military or other apparatus of any state. I would perceive it as an insult to myself and to humanity to offer an 'excuse' for not serving in the military and refuse therefore any state permission for adjournment or exemption.

In short, I totally refuse to serve in the military. And I appeal to everybody: Refuse military service; don't go through any bureaucratic process regarding draft and military service, refuse control mechanism of the state such as MERNIS1 and tax IDs, act in solidarity through nonviolent means.

The way to stop war is to deprive it from its human resources.

Any kind of violence is a crime against humanity.

Mehmet Tarhan

Timeline of the Mehmet Tarhan case

October 27, 2001
Mehmet Tarhan, declared his conscientious/total objection in the Ankara branch of IHD (Human Rights Association).
February 16, 2005
An investigation was opened on Mehmet and two of our other friends who read press releases at the "Conscientous Objectors/Total Objectors Rice Day" held on September 5, 2004 in front of Ankara Sİhhiye Military Base. Mehmet refused to supply a deposition.
April 8, 2005
The night he went from İstanbul to Izmir to work at the book fair in that city, he was arrested by the police on the grounds that he was a "roll call deserter" and was handed over to a military service processing office. Here, he declared that he is a conscientous/total objector, he refused to give any statement or sign any documents.
April 9, 2005
He was transferred to Tokat in the custody of soldiers. He was sent off from the bus station by a group of twenty anarchists and antimilitarists, who chanted "the greatest objector is our objector" [as opposed to "the greatest soldier is our soldier," a slogan used when people are sent off to military service in Turkey] and "Mehmet loves peace," amidst the confusion of onlookers.
April 10, 2005
He was handed over to the military unit in Tokat. He refused wearing a uniform, getting his hair cut and shaving his beard and moustache. He did not sign documents regarding military service.
On the same day, the press releases in Istanbul and İzmir (at the site of the book fair) announced that Mehmet Tarhan Solidarity Initiative was formed, that Mehmet is not alone, that his resistance is supported and that a long term campaign has begun.
The War Resisters' International (WRI) announced via a press release that they are following up on this process and called for a support campaign.
April 11, 2005
Mehmet was arrested in Tokat on the charges of "insisting to disobey orders" and was transferred to Sivas Military Prison. When he was first brought to prison, he was beaten by a group of prisoners who were provoked by prison authorities.
April 14, 2005
Kaos GL (an LGBT advocacy organization) announced a written declaration and made a call to everyone to support Mehmet Tarhan.
April 16, 2005
A 40-50 strong group marched from Taksim to Galatasaray with the "Don't go to military" banner and made a press release, demanding the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan and stressing that conscientious/total objection is a right. After the press release, the group sent solidarity letters to Mehmet from the Galatasaray post office.
April 18, 2005
The date of the trial was announced. Solidarity initiatives, declared that they were going to be in Sivas on April 28, and called everyone to action on the same day.
April 21, 2005
Mehmet was forcefully taken to the Military Hospital although he had declared many times that despite being gay he would not accept the "unfit"[the word is "rotten" in Turkish] report that the military offers as a so-called "right" and stated that this report reflects the "rottenness" of the militaristic system itself. Mehmet Tarhan Solidarity Initiative condemned the forced hospital stay with a press release and called for the immediate ceasure of this torture.
April 25, 2005
At the press release organized in Izmir, a call was made to attend the trial on April 28 and a letter of support was mailed to Mehmet.
During the march that began at Beþiktaþ ferry station and ended at Moda, flyers were distributed both in Beþiktaþ and Kadİköy, a call for Mehmet's immediate release was made and people were invited to attend Mehmet's trial. İn additon to slogans, the march was also accompanied by a large portrait of Mehmet and a banner that read "Mehmet was bored, we are taking him for a walk."
The Association of Conscientous Objectors who rallied in front of the Turkish Consulate in Athens, called for the immediate release of Mehmet and the recognition of the right to conscientious objection.
April 28, 2005
Mehmet was tried with the charges of "insisting to disobey orders in order to escape military service." While the group consisting of 30 people from solidarity initiatives and international supporters, were there to attend the trial, some of the supporters were not allowed in the court room. As Mehmet repeated that he is a conscientous objector and that it is against law for him to be sued in a military court, his lawyers asserted that he is a civilian and a conscientous objector, that a civilian cannot be tried with disobeying orders and that conscientous objection is recognized as a right in international conventions.
The trial was adjourned to May 26 in order to listen to the testimony of 7 soldiers, and the imprisonement of Mehmet was continued. After the trial, a conscientous objector was taken in custody on the grounds of being a "roll call deserter" and was released the same day.
April 30, 2005
A press release was organized in Istanbul with the attendance of Mehmet's lawyer and international supporters. The press release evaluated the latest developments in Mehmet's case and the trial result.
May 1, 2005
In the May 1st rallies organized in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Malatya, banners about Mehmet were carried, flyers were distributed and slogans were chanted.
May 15, 2005
Mehmet Tarhan was one of main topics of the II. Traditional Militourism Festival held in Izmir. His resistance was supported with the slogans chanted and statements made at each stop. Before the new declarations of objection, Mehmet's support message from prison was read out. A giant letter was prepared and mailed to Mehmet.
Feminists from Ankara, made a written declaration calling all out to support Mehmet Tarhan.
May 24, 2005
Mehmet experienced intense repression and violence from the moment he sat foot in prison. The previously unknown scale of the repression Mehmet was going through was announced via the press release organized by his lawyers in Ankara.
May 25, 2005
Mehmet's hair and beard were forcefully shaved with the prosecutor's order. Mehmet went on hunger strike to protest the violence he was subjected to in prison.
A press release was organized in Istanbul to protest the violence Mehmet was subjected to. After the press release, a banner that read "Free Mehmet Tarhan" was set on air with balloons. And it was announced again that the supporters would be in Sivas for the second trial.
May 26, 2005
The second trial was held. Again 30 people from the solidarity initiatives attended the trial. Because of the violence he was subjected to, Mehmet had difficulty walking, sitting and talking. For the testimonies of the soldiers to be completed, the trial was adjourned to June 9, 2005 and it was decided that Mehmet's imprisonement continue.
After the trial, the police tried to take three conscientous/total objectors in custody on the grounds that they were "deserters." The police attacked the group who put on a nonviolent resistance against their friends' arrest. After the scuffle, the police arrested 7 more people who went to the police station to see about their friends' condition. The group was first sent to the prosecutor and then to the court room with arrest warrants. The 7 people were released to be tried without arrest while the three objectors were taken to the military service processing office. The IDs of the objectors were confiscated and they were asked to show next day with photographs. Another objector was taken in custody that night and taken to the military processing office. He too was asked to show next morning at the office. The group left for Ankara in the early hours of the morning.
15 members of the European Parliament began a signature campaign demanding the release of Mehmet Tarhan, and the recognition of his right to conscientious objection granted by international conventions.
May 27, 2005
Mehmet was not sent to the forensic lab that he needs to be sent in order to document the torture he suffered, instead he was given a mock medical examination at the military hospital.
The Istanbul branch of Human Rights Association organized a press release in Galatasaray, demanding an end to the repression Mehmet Tarhan suffers and the recognition of this right to conscientous objection. After the press release, letters were sent to the Head of Chiefs of Staff and Sivas Military Prison.
DEH (Revolutionary Gay Movement) published a statement announcing their support of Mehmet's resistance and asserted that he is not alone.
May 28, 2005
100 people strong group that gathered in Taksim Square, marched to Harbiye Military Base accompanied by banners, slogans and music. During the march, they distributed flyers that call for Mehmet's immediate release and an end to the torture he is suffering. After the press release in front of the military base, the group marched back to Taksim on the same track.
The Kurdish-Turkish War Resisters Initiative (KTSKİ) and the German Peace Organization- United Conscientious Objectors(DFK-VK) organized a rally in Frankfurt in support of conscientous objector Mehmet Tarhan currently held in Sivas Military Prison.
In the rally calling for the closure of the Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, a group of antimilitarists carried banners that called for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan and distributed flyers that included the last developments and called for public awareness.
May 30, 2005
According to the latest information from the prison, Mehmet's exercise time was reduced to 5 minutes.
Ankara Mehmet Tarhan Solidarity Initiative, organized a press release in Ankara with 60 participants, relaying information regarding Mehmet and calling for his immediate release.
The Solidarity Initiative gathered in front of the Taksim subway station, and amidst music and slogans, distributed fried sweet dough to passers-bye, saying "we're distributing the bites that wouldn't go through Mehmet's throat," in order to stress Mehmet's hunger strike. After dsitributing the fried dough, two members of the initiative had their heads shaved, to send to the locks of hair to the prosecutor who forcefully cut Mehmet's hair.
Lambda-İstanbul Gay Initiative, made a written statement calling all to support Mehmet Tarhan.
ÖDP [Freedom and Solidarity Party] made a press release, demanding for the legal adjustments to be made in Turkey towards the recognition of the right to conscientious objection, for Mehmet's security to be guaranteed and his immediate release..
World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) suggested to dedicate a seat to Mehmet Tarhan on the 'Jury of Conscience' for the final Istanbul session of the tribunal on June 23-27.
June 6, 2005
The military prison in Sivas limits the visiting time of Mehmet Tarhan's lawyers to 20 minutes per day. On the protest of the lawyers, the military authorities give as reason that they cannot provide meeting facilities, and long meetings between Mehmet Tarhan and his lawyers would prevent other prisoners from using the facilities...
June 9, 2005
Third session in Mehmet Tarhan's trial for "insubordination in front of his unit". The judge orders Mehmet Tarhan to be released. Mehmet Tarhan is released from prison and transferred to the recruitment office in Sivas. The recruitment office receives an order from the Central Office for Recruitment in Ankara to transfer Mehmet Tarhan back to his unit in Tokat.
June 10, 2005
Mehmet Tarhan is transferred to the military unit in Tokat.
June 13, 2005
Mehmet Tarhan is transferred back to the military prison in Sivas. He spents one night at the military hospital in Sivas, before being transferred to the prison.
June 21, 2005
Mehmet Tarhan ends his hunger strike after 28 days.

Open letter of members of the European Parliament 25 May 2005

To the Turkish President, AHMET NECDET SEZER,
the Prime Minister RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN,
the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister ABDULLAH GÜL,
the Minister of Justice CEMİL ÇİÇEK,
the Minister of National Defense VECDİ GÖNÜL,
the Minister of the Interior ABDULKADİR AKSU

We, the undersigning Members of the European Parliament, hereby express our deepest concern on the case of Mehmet Tarhan who is denied his right to conscientious objection, deriving from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mehmet Tarhan declared his conscientious objection on 27 October 2001 and continued anti-war activities in public ever since, without going into hiding. Therefore he is charged with „Insubordination in front of the unit“. According to Article 88 Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK), he is facing a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment.

He was arrested on 8 April and until now is imprisoned in the Military Prison of Sivas where he is facing death threats, severe abuse and blackmail attempts by other prisoners, those encouraged and supported by prison guards. Prison authorities did not react on Mehmet Tarhans complaints. Only when his lawyer Suna Coskun demanded an examination, they would record the abuse. But still Mehmet Tarhan is target of threats and assaults.

Further on he was transferred forcibly to a military hospital where he was by violence undressed and forced to wear a uniform. Due to the repeated and grave mistreatment, Mehmet Tarhan suffers from several health problems.

The first trial on 28 April 2005 was attended by an international delegation. The trial was adjourned to 26 May, to call several soldiers from his unit as witnesses.

We, the undersigning Members of the European Parliament, call for the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan and for the exemption of Mehmet Tarhan from military service. As long as he is imprisoned, we fear for his health, and call on you to ensure that he won't be mistreated.

The arrest of Mehmet Tarhan, the abuse in the military prison and the charge against him are violations of the human right to conscientious objection, the human right on freedom of movement and the human right on freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We also demand for the constitutional recognition of the right to conscientious objection. Conscientious objection is a human right, deriving from Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Turkey is a signatory.

Therefore we urge you to exert your influence and to take appropriate action towards the release of Mehmet Tarhan as well as of all imprisoned conscientious objectors and towards the recognition of the right to conscientious objection.

Signatures: Adamos Adamou (MEP), Vittorio Agnoletto (MEP), Paulo Casaca (MEP), Richard Falbr (MEP), Helmuth Markov (MEP), Erik Meijer (MEP), Luisa Morgantini (MEP),Roberto Musacchio (MEP), Dimitris Papadimoulis (MEP), Tobias Pflueger (MEP), Miguel Portas (MEP), Miloslav Ransdorf (MEP), Heide Ruehle (MEP), Eva-Britt Svensson (MEP), Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (MEP), Sahra Wagenknecht (MEP), Gabi Zimmer (MEP)

http://tobiaspflueger.twoday.net/stories/718884/

from Dr. Caroline Lucas, Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East of England

Commissioner Olli Rehn
Commissioner for Enlargement
European Commission
Rue de la Loi, 200
Bruxelles 1049

9th June 2005

Dear Commissioner,

Re: Turkish conscientious objector

I am writing to bring to your attention the case of Mr. Mehmet Tarhan, a gay man and conscientious objector, who has been detained since 8 April in the military prison of Sivas, Turkey. Mehmet Tarhan declared his conscientious objection on 27 October 2001 and has continued anti- war activities in public ever since, without going into hiding. Therefore, he is charged with "Insubordination in front of the unit". According to Article 88 Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK), he is facing a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment.

In prison, he has received death threats, severe abuse and blackmail attempts by other prisoners, often encouraged by prison guards. Prison authorities did not respond to Mehmet Tarhan’s complaints: only when his lawyer Suna Coskun demanded an examination did they even record allegations of abuse. Due to this repeated and grave mistreatment, Mehmet Tarhan now suffers from several health problems.

The arrest of Mehmet Tarhan, his abuse in the military prison and the charges against him are violations of his human rights to conscientious objection, freedom of movement and freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today, on the day his trial is being held, I would like to remind you that adhering to international human rights instruments remains a condition of Turkey’s accession to the EU, and that the case of Mehmet Tarhan demonstrates that Turkey is yet to reach an acceptable level of compliance with international standards.

I trust you will raise this case with the relevant Turkish authorities and seek their guarantee that, in future, all conscientious objectors will be afforded their human rights as guaranteed in international law.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Caroline Lucas
Green Party MEP for South East England

From Stephen Funk, US conscientious objector

June 10th 2005

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing in deepest support and solidarity of Mehmet Tarhan, who has been held in custody since April 8th in the military prison of Sivas. It has been brought to my attention, as well as to the attention of countless people around the world, that Mr. Tarhan has been detained in deplorable and inexcusable manner and action. Specifically I am referring to the vicious acts of brutality carried out by other prisoners but ultimately brought on with the encouragement and allowance of prison guards who incited the violence by telling prisoners he was "a terrorist".

As Mehmet Tarhan's trial is underway the entire process will be scrutinized by people around the world. If justice were truly to be served Mr. Tarhan would not even be facing trial, but as it is those who have carried out and encouraged violence against him must be held accountable. Anything less would be outrageous and irresponsible.

As a conscientious objector and a gay man who served a 6-month prison sentence in military prison for publicly refusing to participate whatsoever in the war, I have an especially strong connection with what Mehmet is going through. Although my situation was not justified or ideal I certainly was not put through what he has been put through, and he has not even been convicted. Unless his trial results in immediate release from prison, complete recognition of his conscientious objector status, and total discharge from military duty, thousands will rally against the injustice that has been served.

When I was serving my prison sentence I received thousands of letters of support from around the world including letters from Turkey. If Mehmet is unjustly sent to prison after his trial, he too will receive worldwide support and his safety will be of the utmost concern. To him and to those who surround him I offer this quote by Martin Luther King Jr;

"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right."

Mehmet Tarhan has already taken the position that is right, now it is up to you to decide whether or not to do so as well.

In Peace,
Stephen Funk

Amnesty International: Conscientious objector subjected to ill-treatment and death threats from fellow inmates - Public Appeal

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan who has been subjected to death threats and beatings by other prisoners since his imprisonment on 11 April and the delay in ensuring his safety by the prison authorities after the abuses were reported.

Mehmet Tarhan was detained in Izmir on 8 April 2005 and then imprisoned in the military prison in Sivas on 11 April where he has remained since then. He has been subjected to severe beatings and death threats by other prisoners since his imprisonment there. When Mehmet Tarhan informed prison authorities of the abuse no immediate action was taken to ensure his safety and the abuse reportedly continued. After his lawyer learned about the abuse, she raised her concerns for his safety with the prison administration and an investigation into the alleged abuse was opened and some action was then taken by the prison authorities to protect him.

On 27 October 2001, Mehmet Tarhan had publicly declared his conscientious objection to compulsory military service at a press conference in Ankara. He stated:

"I condemn every kind of violence believe that joining or condoning violence will only result in new violence and everyone will be responsible for the consequences. I think that wars caused by power-mongering states are first and foremost a violation of the right to life. The violation of the right to life is a crime against humanity and no international convention or law can justify this crime, regardless of any rationale. I therefore declare that I won't be an agent of such crime under any circumstances. I will not serve any military apparatus." Since then he remained active in his anti-militarist activities. On 27 October 2004 he again publicly declared his conscientious objection.

A case was opened against Mehmet Tarhan and he is being charged with "insubordination", according to Article 88 of the Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK). This charge carries a penalty of between three months' and five years' imprisonment. The last hearing took place on 26 May and observers noted that there were signs of bruising on Mehmet Tarhan's body and that he was unable to walk properly. The next hearing has been adjourned until 9 June. Amnesty International considers Mehmet Tarhan to be a prisoner of conscience, prosecuted for his conscientiously-held beliefs, and calls for his immediate release. The organization also urges the Turkish authorities to introduce an alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors which is not discriminatory or punitive.

Background information:

In Turkey it is compulsory for all men between the ages of 19 and 40 to do military service for 15 months. (...) In recent years in Turkey there have been a small number of conscientious objectors who have publicly stated their refusal to carry out military service. They are usually subject to criminal prosecution.

Recommended action:

Please send politely worded letters to the Turkish authorities in English or your own language:

  • Calling for a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death threats and abuse Mehmet Tarhan has suffered and for the perpetrators of the abuses to be brought to justice;
  • Calling for an independent and impartial investigation into the reported failure of the prison authorities to immediately ensure Mehmet Tarhan's safety;
  • Urging the Turkish authorities to ensure that Mehmet Tarhan receives an independent medical assessment and treatment for injuries sustained while in prison;
  • Calling for the authorities to suspend all legal proceedings against Mehmet Tarhan;
  • Urging the Turkish authorities to release Mehmet Tarhan immediately and unconditionally;
  • Urging the Turkish government to establish an alternative civilian service, which is not of punitive length, for conscientious objectors.

AI Index: EUR 44/022/2005 8 June 2005

Freedom for Conscientious/Total Objector Mehmet Tarhan!

April 17, 2005

Mehmet Tahran, a gay and a conscientious/total objector in Turkey, was taken into custody by police on April 8, 2005, in Izmir where he went to work in a book fair. He was handed over to the recruiting office and then to a gendarmarie outpost. Because he continues his disobedience, he is now being kept in a cell in a military prison.

Mehmet Tahran is a gay and an anarchist, who declared his conscientious objection on October 27, 2001 in the Ankara Human Rights Association. "War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war." Since then, without hiding himself or his address, he has continued his civil disobedience against war and militarism. We are extremely concerned that Mehmet Tahran, who has previously declared that he would never serve the war-machine, including the compulsory military service, was taken into custody and has since been kept in a cell during such a tense period when racist and ultra-nationalist discourses are on the rise in Turkey.

Military Service in Turkey

There is compulsory military service in Turkey.

There is no right for conscientious objection. Because the objectors refuse to perform compulsory military service, their civil resistance is responded to with arrest and imprisonment. The Turkish Armed Forces see homosexuality as a disorder, removing gay officers from their officers and preparing reports on gay soldiers. Homosexuals who are labeled by a report entitled "Psycho- Sexual Disorder: Homosexuality" are subject to spiritual and material discrimination and their rights in social and professional life are violated. Among all NATO countries, only Turkey's army sees homosexuality as a disorder. In Turkey, anarchists and Jehovah 's Witnesses refuse to be recruited.

Militarist Culture in Turkey

There has always been sexism and homophobia in Turkey, a country with an all-pervading culture of masculinity and soldiery.

Militarist organizations have always looked down on homosexuals, especially when it's about military service, labeled them with filing systems, making their life unbearable. Military organization is defined as a state of grace, which a homosexual can never reach.

The fact that military institutions, as the fortresses of masculinity and militarism, exclude women and homosexual men, does not mean they cannot fight, or manage to be soldiers. The exclusion of women and homosexual men is a result of the ideology of masculinity. This ideology, and the military, one of the strongest institutions backing it, degrades the homosexual individual, attacks his soul and personality because they see homosexuals as nothing but "faggots". Curse and despise.

Military psychiatry in Turkey provides a scientific basis for such an ideological approach to militarism. Military psychiatry in Turkey still refers to DSM II of the American Psychiatric Association.

Thus, contrary to contemporary psychiatric literature, according to the military psychiatrist, homosexuality is a psycho-sexual pathology, Those who have this "pathologhy" will not be permitted to join the army, even when they wish to. If one is discovered to be a homosexual after his recruitment, the same approach applies. This time, the law of "unnatural sexual relations " is applicable.

Under this law, not only a soldier who has homosexual relations is discharged from the Turkish armed forces, but also the definition of this relationship is charged as being "unnatural"! Nevertheless, the actual circumstances do not always conform to written rules. Those joining the army by hiding their homosexuality and those who are not gay but engage in same-sex intercourse in the army, are facts of life.

There are three approaches to these facts. To overlook, to neglect for the sake of protecting the honor of the unit, to exile these people to separate places, and label and discharge those defining themselves as homosexual. Of these approaches, which is to be taken depends on the situation, the location and the officers involved.

Freedom for Mehmet Tahran!

Gay and conscientious objector Mehmet Tahran has made clear in his public declaration that he would not by-pass the "conscription problem" through means of a "disabled" report that military psychiatrists would offer him because of his homosexuality.

Conscientious objection should be a human right ! Stop custodies against conscientious objectors and free the objectors who are being held in military prison cells!

PRESS STATEMENT BY KAOS GL

Source: http://www.kaosgl.com/news/fullnews.php?id=43