European Bureau for Conscientious Objection
35 rue van Elewijk, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 648 5220, Fax: +32 2 648 6988
for the release of Turkish Cypriot activist Halil Karapaşaoğlu
To: President of the Republic of Turkey
Mr. Abdullah Gül
Cc: Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Brussels, 10 January 2012
Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, I am writing to you to express our grave concern about the case of Turkish Cypriot activist Halil Karapaşaoğlu and call for his immediate and unconditional release.
On 5 January 2012, Halil Karapaşaoğlu was sentenced to ten days confinement in military jail on the outskirts of the northern part of Nicosia after the closed hearing in a military court found him guilty of bringing the Turkish military into disrepute by writing an article in a Turkish Cypriot newspaper on claiming physical violence had been used against conscripts. He was also accused of travelling to the Greek Cypriot side while in the army. Karapaşaoğlu’s lawyers said however that he had been on medical discharge when he wrote the article and travelled to the south of the island. Halil Karapaşaoğlu was arrested at the Ledra Checkpoint, while he was going to his work in the southern part of Cyprus on 28 December 2011, one day after publishing his article entitled “No to Violence Against Lokmaci Soldiers” about his experiences during his compulsory military service within the Nicosia Lokmaci Military Unit of the Turkish Cypriot Army, which is under the control of the Turkish Army and the Chief Commander of the Turkish Cypriot Army who is appointed directly by Ankara. Turkish Cypriot police blocked traffic leading to the military court and prevented the lawyer and relatives of Halil Karapaşaoğlu, as well as supporters and journalists from attending his trial.
The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection calls on you to withdraw all charges against Halil Karapaşaoğlu, release him and provide effective remedy to him because his human rights and fundamental freedoms have been violated; namely the right to freedom of expression and the right to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Furthermore, we call on you to thoroughly investigate all the allegations of abuse within the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot militaries and bring those responsible to justice; as in the case of 21-year-old Uğur Kantar, the Turkish conscript serving in the northern part of Cyprus who died after being allegedly tortured to death in a military jail in October 2011.
President of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection