Report for the Morning Star (UK)


Mehmet Tarhan: Pride in refusing to kill, London picket, 9 December, International Day of Action.

Written by Didi Rossi, Wages Due Lesbians and Michael Kalmanovitz, Payday men’s network


Friday 9 December, a very lively picket demonstrated outside the state-owned Turkish Airlines in Pall Mall, London, in defence of jailed conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan.  Tarhan, 27, is a gay Kurdish anarchist who was sentenced to four years by a military court for “refusing orders”.  In prison he was assaulted and tortured, and twice went on hunger strike to win the right to prosecute his attackers.  He has refused to be classified as “ill” because he is gay, and exempted on that basis. Now, the Military Court has ordered a re-trial on 15 December, when they may try to force him to have an anal examination – judicial rape. 


An unprecedented coming together of people, countries, anti-war protesters, refuseniks and supporters of lesbian and gay and other human rights took to the streets around the world -- 22 cities in Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Holland, Poland, Serbia, Scotland, Turkey and the US as well as England.  Protestors also highlighted the fight of ex-Black Panther and award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal still broadcasting from death row in the US, arrested 24 years ago this day.


Support messages for the Day of Action included one from Noam Kaminer, Israeli refusenik and father of a refusenik; Alex Izett, whose hunger strike forced the UK inquiry into Gulf War Syndrome; Stephen Funk, a gay man jailed for his refusal to serve the US military in the Iraq war.  The Day of Action has highlighted 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.  The demonstations have encouraged 18 MEPs and a Scottish MSP to call for Tarhan’s immediate release. 
Working with the Global Women's Strike


Free Mehmet Tarhan!

Gay conscientious objector jailed in Turkey
9 December 2005: International Day of Action






Picket Turkish Airlines in London 9 December 12 – 2pm
125 Pall Mall SW1 (corner of Haymarket) Charing Cross Tube


Mehmet Tarhan is a gay anarchist “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”.

   Turkey does not recognise conscientious objection and provides no alternative to military service. 

   For the Turkish military, homosexuality is an “illness”.  Men applying for exemption on grounds of homosexuality must submit to an anal examination and often 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 has refused to be classified as “ill” because he is gay and has demanded his right to be a conscientious objector. The Military Court of Appeal quashed the previous sentence, threatened judicial rape and ordered a re-trial on 15 December.



The Initiative for Solidarity with Mehmet Tarhan demonstrates in Turkey


12 July, Wages Due Lesbians and Payday picket the Turkish embassy in England...

... and in the US...



INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS: Wages Due Lesbians and Payday will have a speak-out in Philadelphia
Other groups will protest in Turkey (Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Sivas) – Finland (Helsinki) – France (Paris) - Germany (Frankfurt, Berlin, Mainz, Münster) – Holland (The Hague) Italy (Venice) – Poland (Warsaw) Scotland (Glasgow) – Serbia (Belgrade) US (New York)

 See Payday’s website







Jailed since April, Mehmet Tarhan has been attacked and tortured by prisoners and guards.  He has been in solitary confinement for refusing the prison’s military discipline.  He has been on hunger strike twice (28 and 34 days) demanding that his attackers be punished.   You can write to him at:

5. Piyade Egitim Tugayi, Askeri Cezaevi, Temeltepe – Sivas, Turkey



We demand

*  An end to the mental and physical torture  of Mehmet Tarhan, his immediate release from prison and discharge from the army;

*  Recognition by Turkey of conscientious objectors’ rights;

*  Abolition of Turkish military’s definition of homosexuality as an illness, requiring anal examination and visual “evidence”.

Email & Fax Blitz

Wherever you are on 9 December, let the Turkish authorities know that Mehmet is not alone.

Email or fax these demands to:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

fax: +90 312 417 0476

and to the Turkish embassy in London:
fax: 020 7393 0066

Please cc:



The protest in London is organised by Wages Due Lesbians and Payday.

Demanding the right to conscientious objection, not the right to kill


Mehmet’s case is a signal for the growing international movement against war and for the right to conscientious objection. Like many grassroots people, he wants no part of the “equality” advocated by some in the lesbian and gay movement: the right to be in the military, that is, the right to kill and to make war.


“If they grant gays the “right” to do military service, I won’t be going around saying “hey let gay people go do their military service.” They shouldn’t go. Heterosexuals shouldn’t go either”.  Mehmet Tahran

My brother Mehmet


by Emine Tarhan

Since the day he was first taken into custody, our life became a real nightmare and this continues.


My other brother is doing compulsory service in the same military that imprisoned and tortured Mehmet, and he doesn’t know what to do.
My mother suffers from heart trouble, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. We hid Mehmet’s imprisonment from her until the first hearing. The first time she saw him was two months later during the second trial. Mehmet could barely stand up because of the torture and couldn’t move his neck. She was not allowed to visit him or give him a hug. My mother cannot travel because of her health and therefore cannot go see him.
As long as he is not in solitary confinement and there is no ban on visiting, I go to Sivas every week. The trip takes 14 hours, I leave Istanbul on Tuesday and the next day I meet with him for seven hours behind the wire fence. I leave Sivas the same evening.

My mother, Mehmet and I, used to live in Istanbul. I had a business. Mehmet was working too. But increasingly I have been unable to give myself to work.  Also I hadn’t been able to leave Sivas for the first three months because of all that was going on there. His life threatened by other inmates and detainees in the prison, the physical and psychological repression of the prison administration, and the hunger strike he began as a response to all these, changed the course of our lives. I had to close down my business because I could not attend to it anymore, my mother and I were evicted from our house and had to move back to Iskenderun.

Every time I meet him I am upset, saddened and angered because he is still there.


What conscription is for
Turkish army opens fire -

5 civilians killed, 28 injured

A press release from the mayor of Yuksekova dated 18 November reveals that the Turkish army opened fire on demonstrators in this Kurdish town, killing Islam Bartin, Sefer Bor, Giyasettin Avci, Ersin Menges, Abdulhaluk Geylani and wounding 28 others. About 30,000 people had gathered to protest “government terrorism”, in particular the bombing by undercover military of a bookshop in the town of Şemdinli on 9 November.

”Mehmet Tarhan will not be a soldier”
(photo: Initiative for Solidarity with Mehmet Tarhan)

In Turkey, the army is everywhere: in the towns, on the countryside, at innumerable roadblocks.  But there are 350,000-500,000 men who are refusing conscription.  Many are Kurds who refuse to serve in a military that attacks their own people, torturing, raping and killing women, children & men, threatening and evicting villagers to make way for profitable dam projects. This is what Mehmet Tarhan is refusing to do.



European governments want to use Turkey’s entry into the European Union to further undermine all our human rights, in Europe and globally. 

Turkey has been the most faithful US stooge since the cold war; the US provided the majority of the armaments Turkey used in its genocidal campaign against the Kurds in the 1990s.  We will not allow Turkey to be added to Bush’s allies in Europe.

   Along with Mehmet, his family and supporters, we are demanding and defending our human rights to conscientious objection, to refuse to kill, to sexual choice, to live in a world free of war and dictatorship.  Free Mehmet Tarhan, and all conscientious objectors!


DONATIONS desperately needed for Mehmet’s campaign in Turkey. Please send cheques to Payday PO Box 287, London NW6 5QU – we will ensure that all donations get to his family and campaign


Wages Due Lesbians

Tel 020 7482 2496 Email

Payday a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike  Tel 020 7209 4751

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