Conscientious Objection in Europe

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Turkey: International support continues to be vital for Osman and ISKD

Osman Murat Ülke was sentenced to 5 months imprisonment on 6 March for "continuing disobedience in a military unit". When he completes his sentence at the beginning of April, he will again be taken to the 9th Constable Training Unit in Bileçik where he will again refuse to soldier and again be charged with "disobedience". And again sent back to Eskisehir Military Prison. Meanwhile he is expecting a charge of "desertion" for not reporting for duty upon his release from military prison in December.

In spite of the multiple trials and sentences, Osman remains in good spirits, and determined to resist. Several colleagues in the (now-banned) Izmir War Resisters Association (ISKD) are preparing to take the same path.

In a parallel development, Osman with 11 other activists from ISKD and the Ankara branch of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) are being charged for an anti-militarist declaration published in a book by IHD in 1996. The accused are the former board of IHD in Ankara -- Yildiz Temürtürkan, Oya Ersoy

Ataman, Ender Büyükçulha, Naciye Erkol, Mustafa Tün, Meriyem Erdal, and Adman Okur -- and the board of ISKD -- Osman Murat Ülke, Vedat Zencir, Ferda Ülker, Ali Serdar Tekin, Yavuz Atan.

The first hearing took place on 18 February. During the second hearing on 1 April Serdar Tekin and Oya Ataman were asked to give evidence. They both refused, arguing that the military court had no legitimacy. Serdar also argued that the two articles they were being charged under -- Art. 58 of the Turkish Military Penal Code and Art. 155 of the Turkish Penal Code ("breaking the willpower of the nation by alienating the people from the military") -- were not legitimate as they contravened the freedom of thought and expression. A third hearing is scheduled for 20 May.

Please continue to send letters of protest to:
Minister of Justice, Mr Sevket Kazan, Adalet Bakanligi, 06659 Ankara, Turkey (fax +90 312 425 4066/
417 3954);
Minister of Defence, Mr Turham Tayan, Milli Savunma Bakanligi, 06100 Ankara, Turkey;
and to the Turkish embassy in your country.

Help Osman, ISKD and IHD keep up their spirits by sending letters of support to:
Osman Murat Ülke, 1 Taktik Hava Kuvvetleri, Lomutanligi, Askeri Cezaevi, 3 Kogug, Eskisehir, Turkey;
ISKD (please note new numbers and address): 2016/1, Sok. No. 11/2, 33540 Bostanli, Izmir, Turkey (tel +90 232 336 20 92; fax +90 232 369 02 52; email osi@info-ist.comlink.de);
Insan Haklari Dernegi (IHD), Yüksel C 29/13, Yenisehir, 06440 Ankara, Turkey (tel +90 312 432 09 57; fax +90 312 425 95 47).

15 May -- International Conscientious Objection Day:
Focus on Turkey

At the invitation of WRI's Turkey/Kurdistan Working Group, anti-militarist groups in several countries have decided to focus this year's 15 May actions on the situation in Turkey. Please send information about your own plans as soon as possible to the Working Group and to the WRI office in London. We would also like to receive reports on these actions by 21 May for publication in Peace News and/or The Broken Rifle. Thank you in advance.

Rudi Friedrich, WRI Turkey-Kurdistan Working Group, c/o Connection e.V, Gerberstraße 5, 63065 Offenbach, Germany (tel +49 69 8237 5534; fax +49 69 8237 5535; email connection@link-f.rhein-main.de).

ECOM 97 -- 12-14 June, Norway

The 1997 European Conscientious Objectors Meeting (ECOM '97) is to take place at Hustad, near Molde, Norway, 12-14 June.

The 1995 ECOM had hoped to hold the event in Vojvodina, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but this has not proved possible. ECOM is open to participation from all CO groups.

Hustad is on the west cost of Norway, in the middle of the scenic Norwegian fjords. The hosts will carry the expense of travelling from Oslo to Hustad, the food and the lodging. They are trying to raise funds for groups who cannot afford the trip by themselves.

More affluent groups should pay a participation fee of approximately 400 Norwegian kronor (US $66): all the money from this fee will be used to subsidise the travel expenses of less affluent groups.

The agenda for the meeting is usually set by the participants.

The Norwegian Association propose that the main subject should be something like "conscription, alternative service and total objection to the military" (meaning refusing both military service and any alternative service). Please communicate other ideas and suggestions to the meeting hosts as soon as possible.

Velferdskontoret for sivile tenestepliktige (Association of COs), PB 8831, Youngstorget, N-0028 Oslo, Norway (tel +47 22 33 64 00; fax +47 22 42 19 50; email: velferdo@sn.no).

State of Spain: insumisión in the Barracks

The Spanish anti-militarist movement has taken a new step in its campaign of civil disobedience against the army with the launch in February of insumisión in the barracks. After a new penal code, foreseeing disqualification sentences for total resisters rather than imprisonment, became applicable last year (see Peace News, December 1995, p. 9), MOC decided to conduct its protest within the military barracks. Eight activists who had been called up have joined their units, only to desert within a few days. Their purpose is to get the authorities to try them under the military code in order to make clear that the objective of total resisters is not abolition of military service but elimination of the army itself. The campaign has become the more relevant now that the Spanish government has decided to end conscription and professionalize the army.

All this clearly embarrasses the military and the military government in Madrid has so far chosen not to prosecute the eight deserters, who held a press conference and destroyed their military papers publicly on 6 March. Two weeks later they presented themselves again, this time to the local authorities. Some of them were arrested for "public disorder", but were released a few hours later. More than a month after they jointly deserted, no legal proceedings against them have been initiated.

Many more young people are prepared to join the movement, and MOC has called publicly for people to desert.

KEM-MOC, Iturribide 12-1ro D, 48006 Bilbao, State of Spain (tel +34 4 415 3772; fax +34 4 479 0383;
email betxea@lander.es).

Amnesty International launches a campaign on the right to Conscientious Objection in Europe

Amnesty International's Europe Regional Programme will launch a public action on the issue of conscientious objection in April 1997, to coincide with the 53rd session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It will start in Moscow on 15 April with a press conference marking the publication of Amnesty International's new report Out of the Margins: The Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe, a roundtable discussion with relevant Russian NGOs and members of Parliament, and a seminar on CO for University students. The press conference Running until the end of June 1997 the campaign will focus on those governments in Europe who have yet to legislate on CO or whose provision of alternative service is judged to be inadequate . i.e., not of a purely civilian character, or of a punitive nature and length.

The campaign will aim to promote legislative change through petitions, letter-writing, visits to embassies and foreign ministries, etc. AI members will be provided with an action pack, offering detailed recommendations for actions on specific countries.

In order to raise public awareness and convey the message that CO to military service is an international recognised human right, Amnesty also intends to promote discussions among educators, students, politicians, religious groups and the media in countries where information about CO is especially scarce, or where the level of consciousness about the issue is low. An information sheet in a number of languages will be distributed throughout Europe with the assistance of local NGOs.

Amnesty International will also take part in a seminar organised by the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection in Linz, Austria, situated near the former concentration camp Mauthausen, from 13 to 15 May. Different generations of deserters and COs will draft a resolution and erect a monument in Mauthausen (see contact address in International Events section on p. 9).

Amnesty International, Brian Phillips, Campaign Co-ordinator, Europe Regional Programme, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 8DJ, Britain (phone +44 171 413 5970; fax 956 1157; email bphillip@amnesty.gn.apc.org).