War resisters banned

Osman Murat Ülke faces trial in Ankara Military Court on Tuesday, 19 November for "alienating the public from the military" by burning his military papers. Osman, who has been detained since 7 October, ended his hunger strike after 21 days when the authorities accepted that he refuses to wear military uniform. He remains isolated from other prisoners -- most of whom are deserters. However, he now has a bed, a light, and reading and writing materials. His weight has fallen from 71 kilos to 60.

Osman now anticipates three possible outcomes to his trial:

  • most probable is that he will be sent to a military unit;
  • he could be detained longer in Mamak Military Prison, awaiting trial;
  • or he could be released, also pending trial.

If he is sent to his military unit, in Bilecik in Bursa county, the punishment stipulated by military regulations is one week in a cell in barracks. Continued refusal would bring an additional month before being transferred to a military prison. However, Osman and his lawyers know of no precedent for this kind of refusal -- and there is always the risk of soldiers trying to break Osman's will by beatings.

While Osman has been in prison, a movement has grown up in his support throughout Turkey, with six solidarity committees in in Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum, Eskisehir, Istanbul and Izmir.

At the same time, the Governor of Izmir has demonstrated the authorities' determination to nip any war resistance movement in the bud. On 6 November, he closed down the office of Izmir War Resisters' Association (Savas Karsitlari Dernegi) for distributing leaflets without permission -- the leaflets criticised Article 155 under which Osman is being charged. ISKD members have re-organised to carry on campaigning.

An international delegation will be in Ankara to attend Osman's trial. Participants are Tony Smythe from London, England; Holger Jänicke and Jan Brauns from Dortmund, Germany; and a representative of the Greek Solidarity Committee for Osman. A deserter, the Greek delegate intends to announce in Ankara his own refusal of any further cooperation with Greek military forces -- a dramatic expression of anti-militarist solidarity on both sides of the Aegean. (Greece, like Turkey, does not recognise any right to conscientious objection.)

There have been demonstrations in front of the Turkish embassy in Madrid and Turkish consulates in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany.

To contact ISKD, write to Serdar Tekin, 1819/3 Sok No 12/3, Bostanli, Izmir, Turkey (+90 232 330 5401 -- his flatmates do not speak English; fax +90 232 323 08 89; email: osi@info-ist.comlink.de) Numbers for protest:
Prime Minister +90 312 417 04 76
General Staff 312 418 53 41
Minister of Justice 312 417 39 54
Ministry of Defence 312 324 46 27
or your nearest Turkish embassy or consulate