Council of Europe to reconsider Ülke’s case today


The Council of Europe is scheduled today to reconsider Osman Murat Ülke's case against Turkey for the country's persistent persecution of conscientious objectors.

Also today, a petition signed by a group of several anti-militarist nongovernmental organizations from around the world in support of Ülke will be submitted to both Turkish officials and the Council of Europe.

Ulke is a Turkish citizen who was the first conscientious objector in the country to openly declare his refusal to perform compulsory military service and still faces imprisonment for earlier convictions, which were actually the subject of a European Court of Human Rights' ruling, dated Jan. 24, 2006.

On July 9 of this year Ülke learnt of a communication sent to his father's residence from the military prosecutor's office in Eskişehir which informed him that he was expected within 10 days of the issuance of that notice to present himself to the prosecutor in order to serve a sentence of 17 months and 15 days regarding earlier convictions stemming from a refusal to undertake military service. Failure to do so would result in a warrant being issued for his arrest, according to the document, dated June 14.

Late in July, Ülke's lawyer, Hülya Üçpınar, applied to the Eskişehir Military Court for a stay of execution; however, her plea was rejected. In August, she also appealed the rejection. Ülke, at the time, described the June14 communication as "a document proving the state's determination to overrule the European court's decision," which charged Turkey with forcing Ülke to live a "clandestine life amounting almost to 'civil death.'"

With the January 2006 ruling, the Strasbourg-based court found that Turkey had violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and ruled that Turkey pay 11,000 euros in compensation to the complainant.

Ülke's case will today be discussed at a human rights meeting of the ministers' deputies at the Council of Europe. The petition in support of Ülke, co-sponsored by six organizations from Europe and the United States, was circulated in English, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish. It has been signed by over 1,300 people from around the world. They include "refuseniks," anti-war activists, trade unionists, lawyers, academics and a member of the European Parliament.