Defend Turkish Conscientious Objector Osman Murat Ulke From Further Military Imprisonment

Great news: Kurdish conscientious objector Halil Savda is out of jail, having served a six-month sentence. He still faces the possibility of another fifteen and a half months. Despite spending two months in solitary, Mr Savda is resisting all attempts by the Turkish military authorities to "break his will".

To:  Turkish & European Parliaments

Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey
Abdullah Gül, Foreign Minister of Turkey
Jean-Paul Costa, President of the European Court of Human Rights
Vuk Jeremic, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe

RE: CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR OSMAN MURAT ÜLKE – the first Turkish conscientious objector to be imprisoned for refusing military service – is again threatened with a 17-month prison sentence following a military court decision over eight years old.

· 1 September 1995 – Mr Ülke burned his military call-up papers, saying: “I am not a soldier and I will never be . . . I want to stress that I will resist the barracks until the end and never perform military service.”

· October 1996-March 1999 – Mr Ülke was repeatedly arrested, charged, convicted and jailed for refusing to be conscripted into the Turkish army.

· 9 March 1999 – Mr Ülke was released from military prison and ordered to present himself again to his military unit; instead he went home and has since lived a semi-legal life, officially a deserter, but not arrested.

· 24 January 2006 – The European Court of Human Rights found that: "The numerous criminal prosecutions . . . together with the possibility that he would be liable to prosecution for the rest of his life . . . The clandestine life amounting almost to ‘civil death’ which [he] had been compelled to adopt . . . constituted degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3."

· 13-14 February 2007 – The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “deplored that the Turkish authorities had as yet taken no individual measure to put an end to the violation found by the Court, the applicant still being subject to an arrest warrant with a view to the execution of his sentence."

· 6 June 2007 – The Turkish authorities stated to the Deputies meeting of the Council of Europe that a draft law to prevent repeated punishment of conscientious objectors was under way and that this law would also “remedy all negative consequences for the violation for [Mr Ülke]”.

· 14 June 2007 – The military prosecutor’s office ordered Mr Ülke to serve a 17-month sentence.

Mr. Ülke is now at great risk of arrest and re-imprisonment despite the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers, and the empty promises of the Turkish authorities.

· Comply with the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke;
· Recognise the right to conscientious objection and exempt COs from military service, and ;
· Immediately end the persecution and “civil death” of all conscientious objectors in Turkey.

International Petition co-sponsored by: Connection e.V., DFG-VK (German Peace Society - United War Resisters), Global Women’s Strike, Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors, Payday men’s network, War Resisters International.


The Undersigned

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