PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE About Mehmet
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Anti-war protesters, refuseniks and supporters of lesbian and gay and other human rights will take to the streets on Friday 9 December to free conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan. Tarhan, 27, is a gay Kurdish anarchist who is a “total” conscientious objector – against all wars and any alternative to military service. He was sentenced to four years by a military court for “refusing orders”.
In an unprecedented coming together of people from 22 cities in 13 countries from Israel to Brazil, the Day of Action will call attention to the widespread refusal of conscientious objectors’ rights: while almost 100 countries impose conscription, only 30 recognise this basic human right to refuse to kill and be killed.
Turkey has conscription, but no right to conscientious objection. For the Turkish military, homosexuality is an “illness”, and while men can apply for exemption on grounds of homosexuality, they must then submit to an anal examination and often must provide a video of sexual intercourse. This is the equivalent of the notorious “virginity test” which the Turkish police and army have used for decades to judicially rape and sexually assault women, in particular Kurdish women.
Mehmet refuses to accept the classification “ill” in order to be exempted from military service, and is demanding his right to conscientious objection. He has been tortured and harassed since he was detained in the military prison of Sivas in April 05. His mother and sister have been working in his support despite financial deprivation due to his imprisonment. He will have a re-trial on 15 December, and there are concerns that a sadistic military court may force the anal examination on him.
Wages Due Lesbians and Payday are demanding
+ An end to the mental and physical torture of Mehmet Tarhan, his immediate release, and discharge from the army;
+ Recognition by Turkey of the right to conscientious objector status;
+ Abolition of Turkish military’s definition of homosexuality as an illness, requiring anal examination and visual “evidence”.
Wages Due Lesbians (WDL) and Payday will picket the Turkish Airlines in London. Other groups will take actions in Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Holland, Poland, Serbia, Scotland, Turkey and the US. As part of the growing anti-war movement in the US, WDL and Payday in Philadelphia are planning a public speakout, and the Global Women’s Strike and Payday in Los Angeles will picket the Turkish consulate.
Noam Kaminer, Israeli refusenik and father of Matan, one of the “Five” Israeli refuseniks, wrote to the Turkish authorities: “Free Mehmet Tarhan, you cannot force someone to fight if he is against it.” Again in Israel, Mirjam Hadar, mother of another refusenik, who has been corresponding with Hatice Tarhan, mother of Mehmet, is helping organise the picket of the Turkish embassy in Tel-Aviv. Thus for the first time the refusenik movement in many countries is acting together and has found common ground with lesbian, gay and others concerned with human rights.
December 9th is also an International Day of Action for another political prisoner: Mumia Abu-Jamal, shot and detained 24 years ago to the day. A former Black Panther, and award-winning president of the Black Journalists Association, he has been on death row for over 20 years. He has continued his campaigning journalism from there, fighting against war and for justice for all, including lesbian and gay activists. In many countries, Free Mehmet actions will also demand justice for Mumia. We are hoping to receive a message from Mumia in support of Mehmet.
Wages Due Lesbians
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a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike
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