The Turkish conscientious objector Cemal Karakus, who declared his conscientious objection publicly on 15 May 2004, was briefly arrested by police in mid-October. The reason for his arrest was that he is considered a draft evader. However, the police did not find any reason to keep him under arrest, and so he was released again. So far, the police did not attempt again to arrest him.
On 28 October, 4 more conscientious objectors publicly declared their conscientious objection in the office of the Human Rights Association in Izmir. With the beginning of negotiation between the European Union and Turkey about Turkey's EU membership, the issue of conscientious objection might form one obstacle for Turkey. Several human rights organisations hope that the European Union will put pressure on Turkey to solve a wide range of human rights problems... if conscientious objection will be one of these issues is not yet known, and will depend on CO groups lobbying the European Union.
In another development, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has now admitted the case of Osman Murat Ülke, a Turkish conscientious objector who was arrested in October 1996 and spent 2 1/2 years in prison, on several charges of disobeying orders. The complaint to the European Court of Human Rights is mainly based on Article 9 of the European Convention, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought and conscience. The admission of the case on the grounds of conscientious objection to military service will make for a very important hearing and final judgement. If the European Court of Human Rights comes to the conclusion that conscientious objection is part of the right to freedom of thought and conscience, then this will mean a big step forward for conscientious objectors.The decision is available on WRI's website (in French). Contact the WRI office for an English translation.
Sources: email Hilal Demir, WRI Council member, 28 October 2004