Dear sisters and brothers,
This is an urgent action alert in support of a conscientious objector who goes on trial before a military court in Turkey on 22 December.
Please write letters supporting him. You may want to use the model letter below as the basis or sign Payday's letter.
President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, email@example.com
Commander of Turkish Armed Forces and Chief of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanit, firstname.lastname@example.org
Turkish Ambassador to the UK H.E. Mr Akin Alptuna, email@example.com
Turkish Ambassador to the USA Dr. Osman Faruk Logoglu, firstname.lastname@example.org
A list of all Turkish embassies (in Turkish and English) can be found at http://www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA/Ministry/TurkishRepresentations/
PO Box 287 London NW6 5QU England Tel: + 44
(0) 20 7209 4751 Fax +44 (0) 20 7209 4761
20 December 2006
RE: Conscientious Objector Halil Savda in military court, 22 December
We write in support of Mr Halil Savda, a conscientious objector who refuses to submit to mandatory service in the Armed Forces of Turkey. We received news of his prosecution from the Conscientous Objection Platform which Mr Savda helped found last October.
We understand that Mr Savda, who is himself Kurdish, if compelled to serve, could be sent to the Kurdish region of Turkey and be ordered to shoot at the civilian population of women, children and men. Tens of thousands of civilians have already been killed by the Turkish military in this conflict and up to three million have been forcibly dispersed. The entire region is heavily militarized and women in the villages have informed our sisters in the Global Women’s Strike of having to defend themselves against the military’s physical and sexual assaults. We are also alarmed by reports1 about conscripts who died in disputed circumstances while serving in the Turkish army.
Mr Savda was arrested two years ago on 26.11.2004 at the Çorlu Military Prosecutor's Office where he declared he would not “serve in the military as it contradicted his conscience and beliefs”. He was released from custody after the trial on 30.12.2004.
Mr Savda was arrested again on December 7 on the “suspicion that he may escape”, when he went to the Çorlu Military Court to follow up on his pending trial, He was given two days of solitary confinement on December 14 because as a conscientous objector he resists all military orders such as wearing a military uniform, getting his hair cut or shaving. When Mr Savda’s attorney Kadriye Doğru attempted to visit him on Dec 14, prison authorities refused, giving completely arbitrary and illegal excuses.
We are very concerned for the well-being of Mr Savda while he is in custody. Last year, Mr Mehmet Tarhan, another conscientious objector recently sentenced to a further 25 months in jail, was subjected to mental and physical torture in detention. Mr Tarhan has since launched legal action against the then Prison Administrator Lieutenant Colonel Erhan Nar and his Deputy Junior Officer Mustafa Selvi, as well as prisoners Ertan Mertoğlu, Ercan Kızılboğa, Ersoy Özbulduk and Hakkı Dinçel for attempted lynching, insults, threats and theft.
We demand that while in detention Mr Savda be allowed to communicate with his lawyers, family and supporters, as well as with the media. We hold the Turkish military and civil authorities responsible for any attacks to which Mr Savda might be subject while in custody.
Everyone has the right to refuse to kill – by natural justice as well as international law, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the European Union Citizenship established by the Maastricht Treaty, and the Copenhagen Criteria, to all of which Turkey is a signatory.
Mehmet Tarhan’s case raised an international outcry. Anti-war activists, refuseniks, anti-militarists, anarchists, women’s, lesbian and gay and human rights campaigners in at least 13 countries demonstrated in his support, winning his release from military prison. The protest, which Payday helped organize, alerted a number of MEPs who in turn warned the Turkish authorities that their repressive actions would continue to cause them trouble.
Now Mr Savda, Mr Tarhan and countless others are demanding that conscientious objection be legally recognized as their right and everyone’s. They are part of a growing movement in the region and all over the world, of people who refuse to accept the squandering of human, social and financial resources on military violence, and therefore the wholesale manufacture of poverty and repression.
We demand that the Turkish authorities recognize Mr Halil Savda as a conscientious objector and release him immediately. We also demand the immediate end to Mr Tarhan’s and all other conscientious objectors’ persecution in Turkey.
Eric Gjertsen Giorgio Riva
Payday US Payday UK
1Amnesty International, 27 August 1999, and the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), 1 November 2000. See also: The Deportation Machine by Liz Fekete, Institute of Race Relations, London, 2005.