Letter of Stephen Funk in support of Mehmet

June 10th 2005

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing in deepest support and solidarity of Mehmet Tarhan, who has been held in custody since April 8th in the military prison of Sivas.  It has been brought to my attention, as well as to the attention of countless people around the world, that Mr. Tarhan has been detained in deplorable and inexcusable manner and action. Specifically I am referring to the vicious acts of brutality carried out by other prisoners but ultimately brought on with the encouragement and allowance of prison guards who incited the violence by telling prisoners he was "a terrorist".

As Mehmet Tarhan's trial is underway the entire process will be scrutinized by people around the world.  If justice were truly to be served Mr. Tarhan would not even be facing trial, but as it is those who have carried out and encouraged violence against him must be held accountable.  Anything less would be outrageous and irresponsible.

As a conscientious objector and a gay man who served a 6-month prison sentence in military prison for publicly refusing to participate whatsoever in the war, I have an especially strong connection with what Mehmet is going through.  Although my situation was not justified or ideal I certainly was not put through what he has been put through, and he has not even been convicted.  Unless his trial results in immediate release from prison, complete recognition of his conscientious objector status, and total discharge from military duty, thousands will rally against the injustice that has been served.

When I was serving my prison sentence I received thousands of letters of support from around the world including letters from Turkey.  If Mehmet is unjustly sent to prison after his trial, he too will receive worldwide support and his safety will be of the utmost concern.  To him and to those who surround him I offer this quote by Martin Luther King Jr;

"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right."

Mehmet Tarhan has already taken the position that is right, now it is up to you to decide whether or not to do so as well.

In Peace, Stephen Funk