TURKEY: Investigation against Conscientious Objection Association Co-chair, Merve Arkun

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Merve Arkun from CO Association (Turkey)

The Office of the Chief Prosecution in Diyarbakir, Turkey, has opened an investigation against the co-chair of the Conscientious Objection Association (Turkey), Merve Arkun. The Association has reported that the investigation is due to a press conference they organised two years ago on International Conscientious Objectors Day.

On 15th May 2016, the Conscientious Objection Association organised a number of events in the city of Diyarbakir, including a press conference and public declarations by conscientious objectors. The Association's statement read during the conference was titled “We Do not Let Amed [Diyarbakir], to Become a Garrison Town ”, and called for support to protect Tahir Elci city forest from the destruction of ongoing military operations in the region, as well as highlighting the human, environmental and cultural costs of ongoing military operations in the Kurdish towns of Turkey.

Two years after this statement, the Association has learnt that an investigation has been opened against Merve Arkun and she is being accused of “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organisation”. On 5th June, Merve gave a statement at the Anti-Terror Branch of Istanbul Police Headquarters. In her statement to the police, Arkun said that conscientious objectors have been opposing war in various parts of the world and the Association's statement on 15th May 2016 was their stance against war and that conscientious objection is a human right.

In response to ongoing investigation against their co-chair, the Conscientious Objection Association released a statement which said:

“Although the government is trying to frighten and discourage conscientious objectors and antimilitarists via investigations and trials, they won't succeed. We, who defend life against death, who defend peace against war, are not going to give up saying 'Conscientious objection is a human right.' Merve Arkun is not alone! Defending peace is not a crime!”

Source: Vicdani Ret Dernegi, Dernek Eşbaşkanımız Merve Arkun’a Soruşturma, 6 June 2018; Demokrat Haber, "Amed'in 'Garnizon Kent' olmasına izin vermeyeceğiz", 5 May 2016.

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