10 June 2005
TURKEY: Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan
released from prison - but not from the military
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
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.
War Resisters' International
Background information on conscientious objection in Turkey is available
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