A conscientious objector as plane hijacker?

Hakan Ekinci, 28, who deserted his Istanbul garrison in May and fled to Albania, on Tuesday seized the Turkish Airlines Tirana-Istanbul flight on which he was being deported, threatening the pilot with a parcel disguised as a bomb, officials said. He had made an unsuccessful bid for asylum in Albania earlier. Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said "such types of asylum requests should be regarded with suspicion," adding that Ankara would ask for Ekinci's extradition, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Hakan Ekinci had earlier contacted Turkish antimilitarists via their website savaskarsitlari.org. In an August interview with the leftist Birgun newspaper from a UN-run refugee camp in Albania, Ekinci claimed he was tortured while in the army. He said he would not return to Turkey "whatever happens" because, "I reject the law of compulsory military service that keeps me away from my motherland."

While in the refugee camp in Albania, Hakan Ekinci asked Turkish antimilitarists for help and support in his asylum bid. However, due to his sometimes incoherent information, it was difficult to provide support. He also did not respond to emails asking for specific information.

The Turkish war resisters issued a statement, in which they condemn the plane hijacking. The statement is printed below in full.

The instrumentalization of conscientious objection to justify violence is unacceptable

Hakan Ekinci, who hijacked the Turkish Airlines plane, has applied to our openly accessible website a few months ago, claiming to be a conscientious objector and asking for support. Everybody who can write an e-mail can do this. Based on his e-mail we first of all tried to understand what the problem was.

We decided to publish two of his letters on our site under the rubric “coming from you”, despite our objections to his language and opinions, because of his claims of being subject to human rights violations.

It is of course inherent to the stance of war resistance to support and show solidarity with everybody who is objecting to military service on conscientious, ethical and political grounds and who opposes to relate to militarism and mechanisms of war.

But due to the increasing inconsistencies and unbalanced statements in his e-mails we stopped publishing his e-mails on our web-site since approximately one month.

The act of hijacking a plane and endangering the life of hundreds doesn’t comply with the basic premises of conscientious objection which is rejecting all forms of relations that preach murder.

The action of Hakan Ekinci is in no way related or connected to war resisters and conscientious objectors.

It is unacceptable and deplorable to us that Ekinci is instrumentalizing conscientious objection to justify his act of violence.

Uğur Yorulmaz
On behalf of the Antimilitarists of Turkey