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In Turkey, Aytek Özel Sentenced to 1 Year and 15 Days

On 21 April, Aytek Özel — the former chair of the Turkish War Resisters Association in Izmir — was sentenced to one year and 15 days for seeking to turn the Turkish people against the military. The remarks were made in a TV interview on 8 December when Aytek said he supported people not reporting for military service, adding that he would not consign any child of his to the army.

On trial in a military court, Aytek reiterated his position: "I support peace against war and life against death. To convict me is to defend war and death. I am on trial for a thought crime, and I still have the same thoughts. I still support the people who don't go to military service. I am against conscription".

Aytek had been in military custody since 8 February, but now has been released pending his appeal to the Military Tribunal of Appeal. On his first day in military prison, Aytek refused to wear a uniform and was put into solitary confinement in a dark, wet cell, full of mice. He then agreed to wear uniform but refused to participate in any military training, to take orders or to salute officers. This was accepted as Aytek had not himself been called up; he was transferred to a dormitory with 37 men in an area of 60 square metres. It is clear that the army would not allow any conscript to refuse to take part in military training, and future objectors can expect even harsher treatment.

Contacts: SKD Izmir and SKD Istanbul (see addresses above). Financial support for Turkish war resisters can be sent to the WRI office in London. If you want to raise funds for Turkish war resisters, Izmir SKD produces leather wallets with a broken rifle design which can be ordered in bulk from them for US$4/DM6 a piece.