Release gay conscientious objector
Mehmet Tarhan win
his demands and ends his hunger strike
Payday, 3 November
We have just received news from Turkey that
imprisoned gay conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan has won
most of his demands and come off his
hunger strike after 34 days.
Mehmet Tarhan had been on hunger strike since September 30,
following the forcible and violent shaving of his hair and
beard, to protest against the unjust and arbitrary practices
of the prison authorities.
His supporters in Turkey, spearheaded by
Initiative for solidarity with Mehmet Tarhan
also tell us that the
Military Court of Appeal has
just overruled his 4-year sentence on procedural grounds.
It is now expected that he will be tried again by
Sivas Military Court on charges of "insistent insubordination
before the [military] unit, with the intent of evading
military service altogether."
Further information will follow.
Historical punishment for Mehmet Tarhan
Istanbul Initiative for
Solidarity with Mehmet Tarhan, 11 August 2005
Conscientious Objector (CO) Mehmet Tarhan, whose trial has
been going on for over 4,5 months already by the Military
Court of Justice, has been imprisoned to a historical
punishment. In the court hearing that joined two seperate
claims that are namely "Insubordination before command" and
"Insubordination before command for trying to escape from
military service" pursuant Art. 88 of the Turkish Penal
Military Code, Mehmet Tarhan was sentenced to a four (4)
years of jail, 2 years from each claim.
Sivas Military Court of Justice has not yet declared the
justification for the decision. Suna Coskun, attorney of
Mehmet Tarhan, expressed that this is the toughest
imprisonment decision taken in Turkey towards CO's and
explained that right after the declaration of the
justification for the sentence, they will appeal to The
Supreme Court of military appeals for cassation. "Mehmet can
not be deported from Sivas until the justification is
declared" told Suna Coskun and expressed that Mehmet is in
good health, good mood and received the decision in a
It is expressed that for Mehmet Tarhan, who has been in good
health during the hearing, the execution of the jail
sentence will last for 19 months in military prison.
Tarhan’s statement at his trial
conscientious objector Mehmet
held illegally, wins rights in prison,
on trial again 4 August 2005
Report: Protests in
York and Venice on 12 July 2005
sisters and brothers,
We recently sent you Action Alerts urging support for Mehmet
Tarhan, a conscientious objector and a gay man, detained since
8 April in the military prison of Sivas (Turkey), where he has
been brutally attacked ( http://www.refusingtokill.net/Turkey/ReleaseMehmet.htm
When Mr Tarhan appeared before a military court on 9
June, the judge released him – a great victory, including
for the international movement that is supporting him.
But the military immediately detained him again, in
open violation of international law, and sent him back to
Sivas military prison. He
now faces another trial on 4 August, so your support is
urgently needed now, to insist that all the charges against Mr Tarhan be dropped and that he be released immediately from
Mr Tarhan went on a 28-day hunger-strike in protest
against his treatment in prison, and on 21 June won his
demands: a cell of his own to protect him from abuse by other
prisoners, to receive his mail regularly, access to books, to
make his own tea, a TV, and an examination by civilian
physicians who visited him and declared him in good health.
The necessary treatment following his hunger strike has
So far we
have received copies of protest letters to the Turkish
authorities from Argentina, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland,
UK and US. Notably,
Stephen Funk, a gay man who was the first US soldier to
publicly refuse to serve in Iraq, wrote to the Turkish
). And there have
been demonstrations in Frankfurt and Athens. On 12 July, day
of a court hearing, Payday and Wages Due Lesbians organised
protests in front of the Turkish embassy and consulates in
York and Venice.
We, and others, have lobbied
Members of the European
Parliament (MEPs), and many have declared their support.
Given the negotiations for Turkey’s entry into the
European Union, MEPs’ intervention is crucial in securing Mr
In Turkey there have been marches for Mr Tarhan on Harbiye
military and Incirlik air bases; banners, flyers and chanting
at May day rallies in Istanbul,
Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Malatya; readings from his prison
letter at the
Izmir anti-militarism festival; letter writing campaigns;
press conferences/demonstrations; and support in the court
organizations are involved: antimilitarists, lesbian &
gay, women’s and human rights groups, anarchists.
We must not forget that behind the persecution of
brother Tarhan are the immense, and hidden, number of draft
evaders – 350,000 – many refusing to serve in Turkey’s
war against Kurdish people.2
Mehmet Tarhan and his supporters in Turkey need to know that
people are organising internationally to protect his life and
have his right to conscientious objection upheld.
We urge you to write letters or postcards to:
Mehmet Tarhan, 5. Piyade Egitim Tugayi, Askeri Cezaevi,
Temeltepe – Sivas, Turkey
urge you to write (again) to the Turkish authorities, pressing
for his immediate and unconditional release.
We rely on him continuing his determined
campaign against war, free from restriction and persecution.
War Resisters International, CO-alert, 22 June 2005
2 Quaker Council for European Affairs: The Right to
Conscientious Objection in Europe: A Review of the Current
Presidency of Turkey Republic
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Minister of the Interior Abdulkadir Aksu
Minister for Justice Cemil Çiçek
Sivas Military Prison
Re: Conscientious Objector Mehmet Tarhan, illegally
detained by Turkish army
We write to you about Mehmet Tarhan, a gay man and
conscientious objector, detained since 8 April in the military
prison of Sivas, Turkey.
Encouraged by prison staff, other prisoners have
repeatedly beaten, humiliated and threatened Mr Tarhan with
death, even in front of his lawyer. When Mr Tarhan went before
the military court on June 9, he could not walk properly and
his body was covered in bruises.
know, the judge released Mr Tarhan because he had ”already
spent two months in prison, which is about the time he would
have to serve in prison if finally sentenced”1.
However, he was returned to detention, first to Sivas military
hospital, and then to Sivas military prison.
Tarhan should never have been jailed in the first place.
It is a scandal that he had to go on hunger strike for
28 days in order to win elementary human rights like equal
treatment with, and protection from, other prisoners, and
examination and treatment by independent doctors.
The Turkish military and civilian authorities must guarantee
his safety. An
independent inquiry must establish who is responsible for
inciting and perpetrating violent acts against Mr Tarhan while
in detention, and they must be brought to justice.
We are outraged to hear that Mr Tarhan, having again refused
to serve, is to be put on trial a second time, on 12 July(deferred
to 4 August).
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in
the case of another Turkish conscientious objector, Osman
Murat Ulke, stated that any detention of a conscientious
objector after an initial detention following a first act of
refusal is "arbitrary, being contrary to article 10 of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"3.
Mr Tarhan is exercising his right to conscientious
objection under Article 18 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a party.
Committee of Ministers to Member States of the Council of
Europe Regarding Conscientious Objection to Compulsory
Military Service states that, "Anyone liable to
conscription for military service who, for compelling reasons
of conscience, refuses to be involved in the use of arms,
shall have the right to be released from the obligation to
perform such service”4.
This cycle of detention, torture, trial, mock release and
detention is illegal and must be stopped.
The judge’s ruling of 9 June must be upheld.
Mr Olli Rehn, Commissioner
for Enlargement Policy of the European Union, has
pledged to take up Mr Tarhan’s case.
Other MEPs, including Michael Cashman, the President of
Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, Caroline
Lucas from the Greens and Vittorio Agnoletto from the United
Left have already made representations to the Turkish
Mehmet Tarhan to be a prisoner of conscience.
demand the immediate recognition of conscientious objector
status and unconditional release for Mehmet Tarhan and all
other Turkish conscientious objectors, including Ersan Ugur
Gor, Erdem Yalcinkaya, Mustafa Seyhoglu and Hasan Cimen
who were arrested following Mr Tarhan’s trial.
Yours for refusing to kill,
War Resisters International, CO-alert, 10 June 2005
Suna Coşkun, Mehmet Tarhan’s lawyer, at 17 June 2005
No. R (87) 8
Olli Rehn, Commissioner
for enlargement policy of the European Union
Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner
for Human Rights, Council of Europe
Trevor Stevens, Executive
Secretary, Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Council of
Michael Cashman MEP, President
of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and
Adamou MEP, Vittorio
Giovanni Berlinguer MEP,
Fausto Bertinotti MEP,
Emma Bonino MEP,
Giulietto Chiesa MEP,
Daniel Cohn-Bendit MEP,
Massimo D’Alema MEP,
Di Pietro MEP,
Hélène Flautre MEP,
Monica Frassoni MEP,
Jean Lambert MEP,
Enrico Letta MEP,
, Helmuth Markov MEP,
Erik Meijer MEP,
Roberto Musacchio MEP ,
Marco Pannella MEP,
MEP, Miloslav Ransdorf MEP, Raul
Romeva MEP, Heide
Ruehle MEP, Eva-Britt Svensson MEP, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides
MEP, Gabi Zimmer MEP.
strike ended after Mehmet wins demands
War Resisters' International, 22 June 2005
Turkish Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, imprisoned at the
military prison in Sivas, ended his hunger strike in the morning of
21 June 2005. He began the hunger strike on 25 May 2005, in protest
against maltreatment in the prison and the inaction of the prison
authorities to protect him. After 28 days of hunger strike, the
prison authorities accepted hisdemands.
Mehmet Tarhan said in a press statement, made with the help of his
lawyer Suna Coskun, that he had chosen to end his hunger strike
after the prison management had chosen to accept his conditions.
After his release from prison on 9 June, Mehmet Tarhan was returned
to the military unit in Tokat, and then back to the military prison
in Sivas (see the last update from 16 June: http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20050616a.html).
The prison authorities accepted Mehmet Tarhan's demands for equal
treatment. As he is in a cell of his own (to protect him from abuse
by other prisoners), he is given a TV, is able to make his own tea,
has access to books and should receive his mail regulary. Yesterday,
the prison authorities accepted his demand for an examination by
civilian physicians, and yesterday morning to physicians from the
Medical Association of Sivas examined Mehmet Tarhan in prison, and
declared him of good health. The necessary treatment after the end
of 28 days of hunger strike has begun.
In a separate development, the lawyers have been informed that the
first hearing in the case of his second refusal to obey orders
(after his "release" from military prison on 9 June) will
be on 12 July at theMilitary Court of Sivas.
See also his lawyer's statement
of 17 June 2005.
on the trial of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International, Istanbul, 11 June
I came to Turkey as part of an international delegation to observer
the trial against
conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan in Sivas, on 9 June 2005.
This was the second delegation organised by War Resisters' International,
an international network with 80 affiliated organisations in
40 countries, since the arrest of Mehmet Tarhan on 8 April 2005, and
the start of his trial
for "insubordination in front of his unit" on 28 April
1. Mehmet Tarhan
exercises his right to conscientious objection, as derived
from Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a party. The fact that Turkey did
not introduce any national legislation to implement this right does not
nullify Mehmet Tarhan's human right to conscientious objection - it merely
highlights the Turkish governments attitude towards human rights.
2. While in prison,
Mehmet Tarhan was subjected to illtreatment and abuse from
other prisoners, orchestrated by or at least tolerated by the prison
failure of the authorities to act on this immediately is of
grave concern, and is a neglect of the authorities' responsibility towards
persons in custody. On 26 May, Mehmet Tarhan began a hunger strike against
the authorities failure to fulfil their responsibility to protect Mehmet
Tarhan from abuse and illtreatment.
3. Although the court
ordered Mehmet Tarhan's release from military prison on 9 June, the military authorities responded to this only be
transferring him again
to his military unit in Tokat, where the cycle of military order, refusal, and imprisonment will begin again. Within a
few days, Mehmet Tarhan
will be back in the military prison in Sivas, and a second trial will be opened. This is not only a violation of the
human right to conscientious
objection, but also a violation of Article 14 paragraph 7 of the ICCPR: "No one shall be liable to be tried or
punished again for an offence
for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure." In 1999,
the United Nations Working
Group on Arbitrary Detention already ruled against Turkey in the case
of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke that every detention following
an initial detention is arbitrary, and called on the Government "to
take necessary steps to remedy the situation so as to bring it into line
with the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
(Opinion 36/1999) That the Turkish authorities, 6 years later, again ignore these basic principles of human rights highlights
their ignorance of
4. War Resisters'
International will continue to work with Mehmet Tarhan's Turkish supporters, and with other European and international organisations,
to highlight the situation of Mehmet Tarhan, and to fight for
his release from prison and from the military. We will especially raise
these issues with the relevant bodies of the European Union, to highlight
Turkey policy of "doublespeak" on human rights, and to
make sure that the
treatment of conscientious objectors is an issue in the talks about
Turkey's EU membership.
5. In the present
situation, only the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan from
prison and from the military can be seen as in line with Turkey's commitment
to international human rights standards. War Resisters' International
therefore demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mehmet
Tarhan released from prison - but not
from the military
Resisters International 10 June 2005
trial session today of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724)
in Sivas in Turkey ended with a small surprise: the military judge
ordered Mehmet Tarhan, who had been arrested in Izmir on 8 April, to
be released. Mehmet Tarhan, who is charged with Article 88 TACK (insubordination
in front of the unit) had to be released, so the judge, because
he already spent two months in prison, which is about the time he
would have to serve in prison if finally sentenced. The trial itself
adjourned, but the date of the next trial session is not yet known.
Tarhan, who showed visible signs of physical weakness after suffering
from abuse and threats by fellow prisoners and two weeks of hunger
strike (which he started after the last trial session on 26 May, in
protest against the authorities inaction following the reporting of the
abuse), was transferred to the recruitment office, which decided to transfer
him back to the military unit by military police. It is expected
that he will be brought to Tokat today.
means, the cycle of military order, refusal, prison and trial will
start again immediately - a cycle, which is in violation of international
legal standards. In the case of Turkish conscientious objector
Osman Murat Ulke the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
decided in 1999 (Opinion 36/1999) that any detention of a conscientious
objector after an initial detention following a first act of
refusal is "arbitrary, being contrary to article 10 of the
of Human Rights".
the history of abuse and illtreatment of Mehmet Tarhan during his time
in the military prison in Sivas, War Resisters' International is extremely
concerned that this illtreatment will resume on Mehmet Tarhans return
to the prison in Sivas in the next days.
All arrested activists released
War Resisters' International, 27
During the night all activists who remained in police custody were
released. The three conscientious objectors Ersan Ugur Gor, Erdem
Yalcinkaya, and Mustafa
Sehoglu were brought to the recruitment office, which was opened
especially to deal with them. At the recruitment office their ID cards
were taken, and they were told to come back in the morning, when they
would be given back their ID cards. They were then released. During the
night, a fourth conscientious objector, Hasan Cimen, who was sleeping in a
car in front of a friends house, was briefly arrested by police. He too
was brought to the recruitment office in the middle of the night, and was
released with the order to report to the recruitment office in the
morning. His ID card was also taken off him. Hasan Cimen declared his
conscientious objection on 15 May 2000.
Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724) has
been returned to the military prison after the trial, and began a hunger
strike in protest against the abuse and mistreatment.
War Resisters' International
is extremly concerned about these new developments.
FEAR OF TORTURE:
10 activists arrested at CO trial / Mehmet Tarhan on hunger strike
War Resisters' International's 26
War Resisters' International received urgent information from Turkey.
While two of the 12 activists arrested after the trial of conscientious
objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724) have been released, it is not yet clear
what will happen to the other arrestees. The arrested are: Esra Topal,
Ebru Topal, Dogan
Ozkan , Erkan Ersoz , Gul Duran , Nurhan Sezgin , Inci Aglagul , Ersan
Ugur Gor (conscientious
objector), Erdem Yalcinkaya (conscientious objector), and
Mustafa Sehoglu (conscientious objector).
objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724) started a hunger strike in protest
against the abuse and the prison authorities inactivity related to his
War Resisters' International
is extremly concerned about these new developments. It is possible that
the three arrested conscientious objectors will be brought to the
recruitment office, and from there to their military unit.
13 arrests at trial
of Mehmet Tarhan / trial adjourned to 9 June
War Resisters' International, 26 May 2005
13 antimilitarists and conscientious objectors were arrested in Sivas
following the trial of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan. The trial
began early in the morning, and Mehmet Tarhan clearly showed signs of
physical abuse - he had bruises all over his body, and could not walk well
because of the ongoing abuse. Mehmet Tarhan's lawyer asked for Mehmet
Tarhan to be acquitted, but the judge adjourned the trial to 9 June.
Presently, War Resisters' International is again considering an
international delegation for the trial.
After the trial, the police arrested three conscientious objectors: Erdem
Yalcinkaya (TK14738) declared his conscientious objection together with
Mehmet Tarhan on 27 October 2001, Mustafa Seyhoglu (TK14739) declared his
conscientious objection on 24 January 2003, and Ersan Ugur Gor (TK14740)
declared his conscientious objection on 15 May 2004, during the militurizm
festival in Istanbul. They are presently held at the police station in
Sivas, and it is feared that they will be brought to the recruitment
office, and from there to their military units, and to military
Other activists tried to block the police, to prevent the police from
pushing the arrested conscientious objectors into the police van. The
police violently broke up the nonviolent blockade, and arrested ten
antimilitarists under charges of "assaulting the police". These
10 antimilitarists are presently also held at Sivas Police station.
Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of all arrested
conscientious objectors and antimilitarists.
Trial against Mehmet
War Resisters' International, 28 April 2005
The trial against conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, who has been
arrested on 8 April 2005 has been adjourned to 26 May today. At the end of
the trial Sahin Ozbay, who had declared his conscientious objection on 4
October 2004, was arrested. It is expected that he will be brought to the
recruitment office and then transferred to "his" military unit,
and will follow the fate of Mehmet Tarhan.
The trial against Mehmet Tarhan has been adjourned to 26 May, so that the
court can hear witness statements from 10 soldiers, who witnessed Mehmet
Tarhan's "insubordination in front of his unit", according to
Article 88 of the Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK). This charge carries
a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment.
The trial was attended by a group of Turkish supporters and conscientious
objectors, and two international observers, who formed an international
delegation organised by War Resisters' International. Tina Kemler from
Germany and Eldad Zion from Israel reported on the arrest of Sahin Ozbay
and the adjournment of the trial, and are presently discussing further
action with the Turkish supporters.
PRESS: Sahin Ozbay has now been released.
objector Mehmet Tarhan transferred to hospital by force
- forcefully undressed and forced to wear uniform
War Resisters' International, 20 April 2005
Turkish gay conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan was today transferred to
the Sivas Military Hospital by force, where he was undressed and forced to
wear a military uniform. He has also been attacked by other prisoners, who
had been told that "a terrorist" would be sent to the hospital.
Mehmet Tarhan was transferred to the military hospital following an order
of the General Attorney dated 19 April 2005. The hospital is asked to
produce a report on his homosexuality, which the Turkish military - in
contradiction to international standards - views as an illness, which
would allow the military to discharge Mehmet Tarhan from military service.
In his declaration of conscientious objection in 2001, Mehmet Tarhan
rejected this option: "I perceive the unfit (or 'rotten') report
given as a 'right' based on my homosexuality as an expression of the
rotteness of the militarist system itself."
Mehmet Tarhan's lawyers pointed out after a meeting with the attorney that
any medical examination of Mehmet Tarhan against his will is a form of
torture, and demanded that these unlawful practices be stopped
immediately. It is expected that Mehmet Tarhan will be examined on
Tuesday, 26 April, two days before his trial.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet
Tarhan, and an immediate end to any medical examination against his will.
War Resisters' International calls for Mehmet Tarhan to be treated as a
conscientious objector. Any discharge for reasons of his homosexuality is
a discrimination based on sexual orientation, and a violation of
international human rights standards. War Resisters' International
urgently calls for protest faxes to the Military Hospital in Sivas: ~
+90-346-2253915 ~ (Please write Hastanenin dikkatine (to the attention of
the hospital) in big letters on the top)
objector Mehmet Tarhan to be tried on 28 April
War Resisters' International, 15 April 2005
Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan will be tried in the military
court of Sivas on 28 April 2005, 9:00am. As reported in an earlier
co-alert on 8 April (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20050408a.html),
Mehmet Tarhan had been arrested on 8 April 2005 early in the morning. He
was then brought to a military unit in Tokat, accompanied by military
Because Mehmet Tarhan is refusing to co-operate in any way, he was then
transferred to the military prison in Sivas. Mehmet Tarhan is a gay and
anarchist activist. He declared his conscientious objection on 27 October
2001, and continued anti-war activities in public ever since, without
going into hiding. Mehmet Tarhan is now being charged with Article 88
Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK), "Insubordination in front of the
unit". This charge carries a penalty between 3 months and 5 years
More information and pictures of Mehmet Barhan can be found at http://www.savaskarsitlari.org/mehmettarhan/.
Most of the information is in Turkish though.
War Resisters' International calls for a continued campaign of protest
letters and email to the Turkish authories, and Turkish embassies abroad.
A protest email to the General Staff headquarters can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050408a.html
. Vigils and demonstrations in front of Turkish consulates and embassies
can also be effective. A list of Turkish embassies abroad can be found at http://www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA/Ministry/TurkishRepresentations/