Resolution in support of Ossi presented to the Veterans for Peace 2007 Convention
Saint-Louis, USA - August 15 - 19, 2007
UPDATE 28 August: Unfortunately the motion could not be presented due to illness.
It was brought to the attention of the Veterans for Peace 2007 Convention that:
Osman Murat Ülke (known to many as Ossi), the first Turkish conscientious objector to be recruited and imprisoned, is again threatened with a 17-months sentence. He was already tried 11 times for the same “crime”: to refuse to kill.
On September 1 1995 (World’s Peace Day) Mr Ülke declared officially he was a CO. Turkey, a major US ally in the Middle East, has a draft army and does not recognize conscientious objection in any form.
In 1996 Mr Ülke was imprisoned and until 1999 he was jailed 8 times for a total of almost two years, in a vicious circle of arrest, trial, imprisonment, back to barracks, refusal, new arrest. He was released in March ‘99, told to go back to “his” military unit. Instead he went home, but the authorities know where he is and he is now officially a deserter. He has no citizen’s right, no bank account, no passport, he cannot get married, nor recognize his son.
On January 24, 2006 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey could not put Mr Ülke on trial repeatedly for the same crime. The ECHR further commented on his situation: " The clandestine life amounting almost to “civil death” which [he] had been compelled to adopt . . . constitutes degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 [of the Human Rights Act]". The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe urged Turkey to introduce legislation about conscientious objection. Turkey promised but did nothing.
On June 14, 2007 the Turkish military prosecutor’s office ordered Mr Ülke to serve a 17-months sentence. The vicious circle could be starting again. He risks arrest and re-imprisonment despite the judgement of the ECHR, the support of the Committee of Ministers and the (so far) empty promises of the Turkish authorities.
Mr Ülke speaks for the million of women and men who refuse to kill, maim, rape and torture for the armies of the world. He must be supported by the whole international anti-war movement.
The Convention resolves:
1) to demand that the Turkish authorities:
Comply with the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Osman Murat Ülke
Recognize the right to conscientious objection and exempt COs from military service
End now the persecution and “civil death” of all other conscientious
objectors in the country;
2) to endorse the international petition http://www.petitiononline.com/ossi/petition.html in his support, urging members to sign it and circulate it widely;
3) to follow closely the developments of Mr Ülke’s case and discuss further means to show him concrete support.