TURKEY: Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan released from prison - but not from the military

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 .

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet
Tarhan and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Background information on conscientious objection in Turkey is available
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VIDAL: Something Rotten in Ohio

by Gore Vidal

Outside the oil and gas junta that controls two and a half branches of our government (the half soon to be whole is the judiciary), there was a good deal of envy at the late British election among those Americans who are serious about politics. Little money was spent by the three parties and none for TV advertising. Results were achieved swiftly and cheaply. Best of all, the three party leaders were quizzed sharply and intelligently by ordinary citizens known quaintly as subjects, thanks to the ubiquitous phantom crown so unlike our nuclear-taloned predatory eagle. Although news of foreign countries seldom appears in our tightly censored media (and good news, never), those of us who are addicted to C-SPAN and find it the one truly, if unconsciously, subversive media outlet in these United States are able to observe British politics in full cry.

I say “subversive” not only because C-SPAN is apt to take interesting books seriously but also because of its live coverage of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the only look we are ever allowed at the mouthpieces of our masters up close and, at times, most reflective of a government more and more remote from us, unaccountable and repressive. To watch the righteous old prophet Byrd of West Virginia, the sunny hypocrisy of Biden of Delaware—as I write these hallowed names, I summon up their faces, hear their voices, and I am covered with C-SPAN goose bumps.

At any rate, wondrous C-SPAN has another string to its bow. While some executive was nodding, C-SPAN started showing us Britain’s House of Commons during Question Time. This is the only glimpse that most Americans will ever get of how democracy is supposed to work.

These party leaders are pitted against one another in often savage debate on subjects of war and peace, health and education. Then some 600 Members of Parliament are allowed to ask questions of their great chieftains. Years ago the incomparable Dwight Macdonald wrote that any letter to the London Times (the Brits are inveterate letter writers on substantive issues) is better written than any editorial in the New York Times.

In addition to Question Time, which allows Americans to see how political democracy works, as opposed to our two chambers of lobbyists for corporate America, C-SPAN also showed the three party leaders being interrogated by a cross section of, for the most part, youthful subjects of the phantom crown and presided over by an experienced po-lit-i-cal journalist. Blair was roughly accused of lying about the legal advice he had received apropos Britain’s right to go to war in Iraq for the US oil and gas junta. This BBC live audience asked far more informed and informative questions than the entire US press corps was allowed to ask Bush et al. in our recent election. But Americans are not used to challenging authority in what has been called wartime by a President who has ordered invasions of two countries that have done us no harm and is now planning future wars despite dwindling manpower and lack of money. Blair, for just going along, had to deal with savage, informed questions of a sort that Bush would never answer even if he were competent to do so.

So we have seen what democracy across the water can do. All in all a jarring experience for anyone foolish enough to believe that America is democratic in anything except furiously imprisoning the innocent and joyously electing the guilty. What to do? As a first step, I invite the radicals at C-SPAN who take seriously our Constitution and Bill of Rights to address their attention to the corruption of the presidential election of 2004, particularly in the state of Ohio.

One of the most useful members of the House—currently the most useful—is John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat who, in his capacity as ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, led the committee’s Democratic Congressmen and their staffers into the heart of the American heartland, the Western Reserve; specifically, into the not-so-red state of Ohio, once known as “the mother of Presidents.”

He had come to answer the question that the minority of Americans who care about the Republic have been asking since November 2004: “What went wrong in Ohio?” He is too modest to note the difficulties he must have undergone even to assemble this team in the face of the triumphalist Republican Congressional majority, not to mention the unlikely heir to himself, George W. Bush, whose original selection by the Supreme Court brought forth many reports on what went wrong in Florida in 2000.

These led to an apology from Associate Justice John Paul Stevens for the behavior of the 5-to-4 majority of the Court in the matter of Bush v. Gore. Loser Bush then brought on undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the greatest deficits in our history and the revelations that the policies of an Administration that—much as Count Dracula fled cloves of garlic—flees all accountability were responsible for the murder and torture of captive men, between 70 percent and 90 percent of whom, by the Pentagon’s estimate, had been swept up at random, earning us the hatred of a billion Muslims and the disgust of what is called the civilized world.

Asked to predict who would win in ’04, I said that, again, Bush would lose, but I was confident that in the four years between 2000 and 2004 creative propaganda and the fixing of election officials might very well be so perfected as to insure an official victory for Mr. Bush. As Representative Conyers’s report, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio (, shows in great detail, the swing state of Ohio was carefully set up to deliver an apparent victory for Bush even though Kerry appears to have been the popular winner as well as the valedictorian-that-never-was of the Electoral College.

I urge would-be reformers of our politics as well as of such anachronisms as the Electoral College to read Conyers’s valuable guide on how to steal an election once you have in place the supervisor of the state’s electoral process: In this case, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who orchestrated a famous victory for those who hate democracy (a permanent but passionate minority). The Conyers Report states categorically, “With regard to our factual findings, in brief, we find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State Kenneth J. Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.” In other words, the Florida 2000 scenario redux, when the chair for Bush/Cheney was also the Secretary of State. Lesson? Always plan ahead for at least four more years.

It is well-known in the United States of Amnesia that not only did Ohio have a considerable number of first-time voters but that Blackwell and his gang, through “the misallocation of voting machines, led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters.”

For the past few years many of us have been warning about the electronic voting machines, first publicized on the Internet by investigator Bev Harris, for which she was much reviled by the officers of such companies as Diebold, Sequoia, Es & S, Triad; this last voting computer company “has essentially admitted that it engaged in a course of behavior during the recount in numerous counties to provide ‘cheat sheets’ to those counting the ballots. The cheat sheets informed election officials how many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count. In that way, they could avoid doing a full county-wide hand count mandated by state law.”

Yet despite all this manpower and money power, exit polls showed that Kerry would win Ohio. So, what happened?

I have told more than enough of this mystery story so thoroughly investigated by Conyers and his Congressional colleagues and their staffers. Not only were the crimes against democracy investigated, but the report on What Went Wrong in Ohio comes up with quite a number of ways to set things right.

Needless to say, this report was ignored when the Electoral College produced its unexamined tally of the votes state by state. Needless to say, no joint committee of the two houses of Congress was convened to consider the various crimes committed and to find ways and means to avoid their repetition in 2008, should we be allowed to hold an election once we have unilaterally, yet again, engaged in a war—this time with Iran. Anyway, thanks to Conyers, the writing is now high up there on the wall for us all to see clearly: “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” Students of the Good Book will know what these words of God meant to Belshazzar and his cronies in old Babylon.

Gore Vidal’s ' Imperial America' will be out in paperback this September.

© 2005 The Nation

Rape and domestic violence safety in military under attack

This is an URGENT action alert from Stop Family Violence. Your immediate action is needed.

The US military has declared war on the privacy rights of rape victims and their therapists. If they win, it could give the military the power to invade the private, confidential conversations we all have with our physicians, lawyers, therapists, or even spouses. Your help is needed to fight back.

The Air Force has issued an arrest warrant against Jennifer Bier, a civilian therapist, who has refused to turn over confidential counseling records of a military rape victim to the military court.

A temporary stay of arrest has been issued by the Tenth District Federal Appeals Court; arguments will be heard later this week.


Go to

to learn more and to sign a citizen or professional oath indicating your interest in making sure that privacy rights are upheld. Bier’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, will take your pledges with her to federal court to help bolster her arguments to keep confidential communications out of the military’s reach.

Our strength is in our numbers
Please forward this message to as many people as you can.

Together we can..

Irene Weiser

ACTION: congress Attacks Public Broadcasting AGAIN

Last week a House subcommittee voted to cut funding for public broadcasting, aiming to radically change programming on National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The proposed cuts include $23.4 million in federal funds for children's educational shows, such as "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," and "Arthur." The loss of these shows would deprive millions of American children of valuable educational programming.

The subcommittee also voted to "zero out" or eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). That loss would be about 15 percent of public broadcasting's total revenues. Small stations serving rural communities and minority audiences would be particularly hard hit by these cuts because they operate on very tight budgets and, in many cases, are one of the only stations serving the community.

We need to kill this funding-cut proposal immediately. Please call the leadership of the Appropriations Committee today and demand that they immediately work to restore full funding for public broadcasting:

  • Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA): (202) 225-5861
  • Vice-Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH): (202) 225-3876

Call these leaders and ask them not to meddle with the funding for public broadcasting. In addition, please also email your Member of Congress and let him or her know that you oppose efforts to slash funding for public broadcasting. You can do so by going to:

We must take these actions today. Last week's vote was "a malicious wounding, if not outright attempted murder, of public broadcasting in America."1

Unfortunately, this kind of congressional effort to cut funding for public broadcasting is not new. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) unsuccessfully tried to eliminate funding for public broadcasting in the 90s and there are still some in Congress who share his vision. And, it is not a surprise that the congressional opponents of public broadcasting have chosen this time to renew their efforts, considering the powerful friend they have on their corner, Kenneth Tomlinson, the chairman of CPB.

Mr. Tomlinson is waging an all-out campaign to politicize the CPB and interfere with the editorial independence of NPR and PBS because he thinks they are biased.2 Tomlinson and his friends in Congress, who are trying to gut public broadcasting, cling to this opinion despite the results of two recent CPB-funded polls that showed that overwhelming numbers of Americans view public broadcasting as a trusted source of news and information.3

This is why we need to move fast to fend off these overt attacks on public broadcasting, which a vast majority of Americans find to be a "trustworthy" source of information.4 So please call Representative Lewis at (202) 225-5861 and Representative Regula at (202) 225-3876, and email your Member of Congress, urging them to restore funding for public broadcasting.

Let us know how your calls are going by posting on our blog at:

Thank you again for all you do for Common Cause.


Joy at release of hostages Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun

12 June 2005

Reporters Without Borders today voiced "enormous relief and immense joy" at the release of French journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi interpreter and guide, Hussein Hanoun, after 157 days as hostages in Iraq.

"We felt we were on the home straight for the past few days, but we wanted to be prudent, especially as experience has shown that each hostage-taking is different," the press freedom organisation said.

"Their release is proof that a solidarity campaign is worthwhile and we thank all those who have given their unfailing support throughout this long wait, especially the Support Committee and the staff of Florence's newspaper, Libération," the organisation said.

Reporters Without Borders continued : "We are especially happy to learn that Florence and Hussein are in good health and will be able to join their families soon. We think at this moment in particular of Benoît and Jacqueline, Florence's parents, who have displayed extraordinary courage throughout this terrible ordeal."

The organisation added : "We hope that we are going to experience a period of relative calm in Iraq and that journalists will be able to work in better conditions there."

Aubenas, who was freed yesterday afternoon, was due to arrive this evening in Paris aboard a plane chartered by the French government. Hanoun has already rejoined his family in Baghdad. The two went missing after leaving their Baghdad hotel on the morning of 5 January.

Reporters Without Borders will join a spontaneous rally at 8 p.m. today at Place de la Republique in Paris.

The organisation points out that there is still no news of French cameraman Fred Nérac, who went missing in southern Iraq on 22 March 2003 while working for the British TV news company ITN.

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world, as well as the right to inform the public and to be informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Without Borders has nine national sections (in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Istanbul, Montreal, Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Washington and more than a hundred correspondents worldwide.

The American people have been had

The war has taken a dangerous turn - not in Iraq but here at home. It has lost the support of a majority of Americans.

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll, for the first time since the war began a majority of the American public doesn't believe the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime has made the United States more secure. The survey also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents say the casualty rate in Iraq is unacceptable; two-thirds believe the U.S. military is bogged down; 60 percent say the war was not worth fighting.

If we learned anything from Vietnam, it is that it's difficult to wage and win a protracted war without public support. Lyndon B. Johnson learned that the hard way; so will George W. Bush. Johnson used a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. vessels in the Tonkin Gulf to ask Congress for a blank check he used to dramatically escalate the war in Vietnam. Bush used the post-9/11 fear of terrorism and slanted intelligence to claim Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened our security.

In both cases, the American people were had.

The growing pessimism about the war in Iraq suggests the public is not buying the upbeat assessments coming out of the Bush-Cheney administration. Americans don't need access to top secret documents to know the war is not the "cakewalk" administration hawks predicted it would be.

Bush may not realize it, but Amnesty International may have done him a big favor. The controversy the human rights group ignited over the treatment of Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has deflected the attention of journalists and war critics from an even more disturbing story - how all the president's talk about going to war as a last resort was just a ruse.

Seven months before the "shock and awe" bombing began in Baghdad, the Bush administration was bending intelligence to suit its purpose, which was to go to war come hell or high water.

Who says so? The head of British foreign intelligence, that's who.

It's all in the Downing Street memo, which was leaked to the Sunday Times of London just before last month's British elections. It created an uproar in Britain but has barely registered in the United States, mainly because the press was more interested in whether U.S. interrogators were desecrating the Koran at Guantanamo.

The top secret memo was written by Matthew Rycroft, a top aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair. It summarizes a report Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, gave Blair and his inner circle on July 23, 2002 after returning from talks with U.S. officials in Washington.

Sir Richard told the prime minister Bush seemed determined to topple Saddam Hussein by military force and that U.S. intelligence was "being fixed around that policy," according to Rycroft's notes of the meeting. "Military action was seen as inevitable," the notes said, quoting Sir Richard as saying, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD (weapons of mass destruction). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, was quoted as saying the case for war was "thin" as "Saddam was not threatening his neighbors and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

At a joint White House news conference last week, both Bush and Blair denied that intelligence had been "fixed" to justify military action.

"There's nothing farther from the truth," Bush said.

"No," Blair added, "the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all."

Some will ask: What's the point of bringing up the Downing Street memo now, two years after the invasion and at a time when terrorist suicide bombers are making life hell not only for U.S. troops but the Iraqi people? The point is this: President Bush didn't level with the American people before going to war. And he still hasn't.

PHILIP GAILEY Published June 12, 2005

Philip Gailey's e-mail address is
© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved

Hell no, they don’t want to go!

Hell no, they don’t want to go!

“Army recruiting is in a death spiral,” says retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Krohn, a lifelong Republican and former Pentagon public affairs official.

As the bloody colonial occupation of Iraq drags on into its third year, the Army missed its recruiting goals for three straight months entering May—falling short by a staggering 42 percent in April.

The Army Reserve fell short 37 percent. The Marine Corps has missed its recruiting target for four consecutive months.

After months of declining enlistments, the Pentagon has announced it will postpone the release of its numbers for May.

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commander of Army recruiting, recently predicted that 2006 could be the toughest recruiting year since the draft was ended in 1973. According to USA Today, Rochelle “projected the service will have only half the number of recruits ready for 2006 than it did this year, when it had an unusually low number of recruits signed up in advance.”

The Pentagon has responded to the crisis by increasing both the number of recruiters and the recruiting budget. The Army has increased its recruiting force by more than 25 percent. Enlistment bonuses have been increased to $20,000.

The military is also releasing new advertising geared toward “influencers”—parents, coaches and teachers. But there is no indication that these measures are having any effect on the decline.

There is no doubt what is behind this decline: the deterioration of the occupation in Iraq and the growing sentiment in the United States against the war. Krohn, an active supporter of Bush in 2000, told friends that “the recruiting problem is an unintended consequence of a prolonged war in Iraq, especially given the failure to find WMD [weapons of mass destruction].”

Despite more aggressive and often dishonest tactics, recruiters are encountering resistance on campuses from students who are concerned about fighting and dying in a war for empire. Even Army public-information specialist Julia Bobick admitted, “Our recruiters have experienced a lot of apprehension from recruits with regard to serving in the war on Iraq.”

A recruiter in Ohio told the New York Times, “Parents are the biggest hurdle we face.”

According to the Times, a Defense Department survey shows that only 25 percent of parents would recommend military service to their children, down from 42 percent in August 2003. Many parents cited opposition to the war in Iraq as their reason.

The Times reported that several recruit ers say they’ve even been threatened with violence. “I had one father say if he saw me on his doorstep I better have some protection on me,” said a recruiter in Ohio. “We see a lot of hostility.”

This anger and determination to protect young people from military recruiters is leading parents and local activists to take action across the country. Some are working to educate students about a little-known provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that allows recruiters access to young peoples’ personal information.

In May, the Parent Teacher Student Associ ation of Garfield High School in Seat tle adopted a resolution that says “public schools are not a place for military recruiters.”

One of the Garfield parents, Steve Ludwig, said that the military is performing “illegal acts. ... What I object to is their coming here to recruit students to perform those acts. It’s not about free speech.”

The slump in recruiting is leading many to speculate about the return of the draft.

Defense analyst Lawrence Korb, an assistant defense secretary in the Reagan era, said the future of the all-volunteer military hinges on the success of military recruiters. If they don’t succeed, it could force Congress to reconsider a draft.

J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, recently told an audience of activists that the low recruiting numbers and the strain the Iraq war has placed on the all-volunteer military—especially the National Guard and reserves—had created a “perfect storm” of conditions that could lead to the return of conscription.

And conscription, in turn, would create a storm of resistance.

For more information visit:

By Dustin Langley GI resistance counselor
Published Jun 11, 2005 5:17 PM

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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