Turkey: persecution of antimilitarists

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Related peace activist(s): Halil Savda
Related peace activist(s): Enver Aydemir
Related peace activist(s): Halil Savda
Related peace activist(s): Enver Aydemir

In Turkey, the persecution of antimilitarists continues. In January 2011, the Eskişehir Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an indictment against five people who lent support to conscientious objector Enver Aydemir, on charges of “alienating the people from the military” (article 318 Turkish Penal Code). According to Today's Zaman, during the court case against Enver Aydemir at Eskişehir military court in January 2010, a group of people, conscientious objector Halil Savda, director Mehmet Atak, writer Fatih Tezcan, Enver Aydemir’s father, Ahmet Aydemir, and his lawyer Davut Erkan in Eskişehir released a press statement and underlined that no one is born a soldier but a baby, making reference to the popular Turkish motto “Every Turk is born a soldier.” They added that they go to Ordu only for hazelnuts. Ordu is a city in the Black Sea region of Turkey famous for its hazelnuts, and the word “ordu” in Turkish also means army.

The Eskişehir public prosecutor claimed in his indictment that these statements are intended to “alienate the people from the military,” defined as a crime in Article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which stipulates imprisonment from six months to two years for people who are found guilty of this act. If members of the media are found guilty of such discouragement, the punishment is increased by half.

While this case is a new one in a long list of cases, the 12-year-long trial against feminist antimilitarist Pinar Selek on fabricated charges of laying a bomb on orders of the PKK is reaching a new stage on 9 February 2011. For 12 years now, Pinar Selek is being prosecuted for a crime she didn't commit: the so-called bombing of the spice bazaar in Istanbul on 09 July 1998. For this, Pinar Selek was arrested in 1998, and spend 2 ½ years in prison, also being tortured during her investigation.

However, the only “evidence” against Selek was a statement by Abdülmecit Öztürk extracted under torture, which has long been withdrawn, and several experts came to the conclusion that there had been no bomb – the explosion had been caused by a gas bottle. The only expert who claimed that the explosion had been caused by a bomb was a police informer at Istanbul university.
On 23 May 2008, after 10 years of trial, Pinar Selek was acquitted. However, the prosecution appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered a retrial on grounds of procedure. When the acquittal was upheld, the Supreme Court again ordered a retrial, and demanded that Selek be sentenced to 36 years' imprisonment. Even the Head Prosecutor opposed the retrial, but this was overridden by Supreme Court Criminal General Assembly on 9 February 2010. The case was again referred to the court in Istanbul.

War Resisters' International will be sending an observer to the hearing on 9 February 2011.

Sources: Today's Zaman: Case filed against five for support of conscientious objector Aydemir, 26 January 2011; International Federation of Human Rights: Twelve Years of Judicial Harassment against Pinar Selek, 18 January 2011

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