Statement by Contemporary Lawyers Association, Izmir Branch                     See Italian translation 
26 January 2006

To the Press and Public Opinion

Last Tuesday (01.24.2006) the European Court of Human Rights has passed judgments on an important issue concerning Turkey.

In summary, the ruling concurs that the trying, arresting, conviction and prosecution of persons using their right to conscientious objection that has turned into a vicious cycle in domestic law, is “degrading treatment” under article 3 of the Convention. With the same ruling, it is noted that there is no law regarding the use of the right to conscientious objection, that there is a need to create provisions towards this end, and that the methods used against conscientious objection cannot be justified in a state of law based on human rights.


Immediately after the ruling, the bureaucracy front has begun the process of creating public opinion with their claims that this decision had nothing to do with conscientious objection and their manipulative remarks about the “unique” circumstances of Turkey. Brainstorming and efforts towards resolution are obstructed by sanctifying institutions and circumstances. It is also notable that those claiming sanctity of a certain duty are usually not those performing such duty compulsively but professionals who get paid for their services.


Even if the European Court of Human Rights had not made a ruling on this issue, it was inevitable and imperative that Turkey made provisions concerning it.


It is imperative to discuss not only conscientious objection but also military jurisdiction and legislation within the context of this ruling. That the military and civilian authorities which are involved in intense cooperation and exchange with the armies in the west in terms of weaponry, munitions, organization and strategic cooperation, refuse demands towards the standardization of regulations concerning military obligations and the recognition of the basic rights of citizens who are forced to perform this service, by mentioning the “unique” circumstances of Turkey, is contradictory and insincere. Refusing the right to conscientious objection can only be explained by the need for a militarized society, not by military needs.


As the European Court of Human Rights also mentions in its ruling, the republic of Turkey, must immediately recognize the right to conscientious objection and make legal provisions in that regard.

Further, the lawsuits of people who are at present being tried at military courts from desertion and similar evasions of military duty must be dropped and those convicted and detained must be released.

In this respect, conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan who is tried in custody and whose bodily integrity is at risk, must immediately and unconditionally be released as a first step.


Although they go by the name “court”, the duties of military courts, which are set apart from common jurisdiction both in terms of the independence of military judges and in terms of their disciplinary and procedural practices that usually give the appearance of being an appendage of military discipline and hierarchy, must be limited to issues of military discipline.


The trying of civilians and civil crimes at military courts must come to an end, the military criminal law must be changed and criminal procedures law and other procedural provisions concerning human rights must be practiced in full by these courts.


Military prisons which are used as houses of detention and are kept beyond all supervision must be shut down.

Public prosecutors must show the necessary care and issue investigations about military authorities who make statements that constitute criminal offense.


Undoubtedly everyone who has experienced three successive military coups and who was subject to further militarization after each coup has and must have something to say about this issue.


We would like to remind that each killing conducted within the chain of command is an act of murder and a “sacred” army for one people is the enemy and butcher of another people. What is sanctified here is not the individual, humanity or society, but the murdering authority itself.