Mehmet Tarhan – Proud to say NO
Global Women's Strike Journal, January 2006

Turkey is one of 100 countries that impose conscription and among the 70 which does not recognise the right to conscientious objection.

Mehmet Tarhan, a gay Kurdish anarchist, has been sentenced to four years in prison by a Turkish Military Court for refusing to serve. He is a total conscientious objector – against all wars and any alternative to military service. He is now appealing.

The Turkish military deem homosexuality an “illness”. Men who apply for exemption on grounds of homosexuality must submit to an anal examination – equivalent of the notorious “virginity test” the Turkish police and army use to rape Kurdish women in particular.    

Mehmet refuses to be considered “ill”. He also refuses the “equality” that would make him kill for the army:

“If they grant gays the ‘right’ to do military service, I won’t tell gay people to do their military service. They shouldn’t. Neither should heterosexuals.”

Mehmet’s mother and sister – Hatice and Emine – have supported him tirelessly with the Solidarity with Mehmet Tarhan Initiative. Mehmet has been on hunger strike a number of times, in protest against being tortured in prison. He won the right to his own cell, to his own tv and to make himself tea. His torturers are being prosecuted. 

On 9 December 2005, there was an International Day of Action in his support in 23 cities in 14 countries. Payday and Wages Due Lesbians held pickets in Lon don, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Venice, Italy.

Now refuseniks are supporting Mehmet, notably, ex-US gay Marine Stephen Funk who was jailed for one year for refusing to go to Iraq, Hagai Matar, one the Israeli Five who have refused to serve in the occupied territories, and Mirjam Hadar, mother of another refusenik, who is in touch with Hatice Tarhan.

Mehmet’s refusal has inspired a movement challenging military domination in Turkey and elsewhere. Whilst warmongers support each other in their wars against Iraq, Palestine, Kurdistan...the growing global movement for conscientious objection is determined to starve them of manpower to wage war.