15 Months of Military Service or 3 Years of Torture!


11 June 2010

Conscientious objector Aydemir was released upon an "incapability report". His lawyer criticized that the legislation lacks provisions on conscientious objection. Turkey is one of three countries of the European Council that does not recognize the right to conscientious objection.

Conscientious objector Enver Aydemir was eventually discharged from military service upon an "incapability report" issued by a military hospital after three years of torture, repression and punishments. Aydemir refused to serve in the military for religious reasons.

Aydemir commented that it was not him who was incapable but the legal system not recognizing the right to conscientious objection.

He was released from the Eskişehir Military Prison (north-western Anatolia) on 9 June. Subsequently, Aydemir held a press conference at the Human Rights Foundation (İHD) Istanbul Branch.

In 2007, Aydemir had declared not to do his military service due to conscientious objection. Initially, the military branch sent him away. Later on, Aydemir was detained for being a "deserter" and released after three months in detention.

Aydemir came to Istanbul in December 2009 to deliver a speech at the Convention of the Platform of Conscientious Objection for Peace. He was arrested in the course of an identity check and taken to his unit after another three months in detention. After he had refused to wear a uniform, charges of disobeying orders were pressed against him and he was kept in prison for another month.

No related laws

Lawyer Davut Erkan criticized the legal system, "The law makers acted within the official ideology, thus they did not consider the possibility of people refusing to do their military service".

"The legislation does not anticipate the right to conscientious objection. People who do not call on the military branch even though they are not of age are called 'draft evaders'. After they have joint their units, they become new conscripts charged with desertion because they were not present at their first muster. But since they have not become soldiers yet, this cannot be evaluated as a military crime".

Erkan indicated that his client Aydemir never actually became a soldier. Nevertheless, he was tried at a military court and their claims for lack of jurisdiction were dismissed, which, in the lawyers opinion, was "unlawful".

"State is governed by security paranoia"

Oğuz Sönmez from the Pacifist Group emphasized that the diagnosis of Aydemir's "anti-social personality disorder" lacked justification. "This is the pretext to get rid of the ones who insist on their resistance".

Sönmez said that Turkey signed several international agreements that recognize the right for conscientious objection.

"Member states of the European Union recognize this right. Only Turkey, Belarus and Azerbaijan do not recognize this right out of a total of 47 members of the European Council", Sönmez stated.

Conscientious Objection

29 people attended a meeting of the platform in May, the total number of conscientious objectors in Turkey amounts to 118.

In the case of Osman Murat Ülke in 2006, the European Court of Human Rights determined that a full deprivation of all public rights dooms the convict to 'civil death'". Yet, Turkey did not enforce according provisions. Conscientious objectors as well as journalists and activists advocating for the right to conscientious objection are frequently being tried under article 315 of the Turkish Criminal Court on "alienating the public from military service".

36-year-old Aydemir, father of two children, was tortured when he was detained in the Maltepe (Istanbul) Military Service. He filed a criminal complaint. The case is expected to commence in the coming days. (EÜ/TK/VK)