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