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Turkey again arrests a conscientious objector

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Enver Aydemir was arrested on 24 December 2009

On 24 December 2009, Turkish police arrested conscientious objector Enver Aydemir during a routine check at the ferry port in Kabataş, Istanbul. An arrest warrant for insubordination and possibly desertion, going back to his earlier arrest and detention in 2007, was discovered, and Enver Aydemir was transferred to Doğancılar police station and then to a military police station. He has now been transferred to Eskisehir Military Prison, where he is awaiting his trial.

Enver Aydemir had declared his conscientious objection on 24 July 2007 after being forcefully taken to the Bilecik 2. Gendarme Commandership to perform military service. Refusing to serve in a secularist military because of his religious convictions, Enver was arrested and transferred to Erzurum 1. Tactical Air Force Commandership Military Prison on 31 July 2007 where he was physically attacked and forced by 10 soldiers to wear the military uniform.

Enver Aydemir was imprisoned in Erzurum for more than two months while awaiting trial on insubordination charges. There he suffered physical ill treatment on more than one occasion. He was released at the trial session on 24 October 2007 and ordered to report to the military unit in Bilecik. Since he was released without the accompaniment of soldiers, Enver Aydemir never reported to the military unit and went home instead.

His new arrest is based on the same charges.

Enver Aydemir is the first Turkish conscientious objector who refuses to serve in the Turkish Armed Forces based on his Muslim religious convictions. Aydemir, who is a devout Muslim, refuses to serve in the military not because he would not support a military organization under other conditions, but because he feels the secular Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is anathema to his religious beliefs, making him the first conscientious objector in Turkey who has put forward religious grounds as his reason for not completing his military service. For this, he was severely beaten and tortured, his father says.

Following his arrest on 24 December, Enver Aydemir suffered some maltreatment and initially responded to this with a hunger strike. After his transfer to Eskisehir Military Prison, he accepted to wear the military prison uniform, and he has now ended his hunger strike.

The arrest of Enver Aydemir is the first arrest of a conscientious objector since the release of Halil Savda from prison in November 2008. In 2007, also conscientious objector Mehmet Bal has been arrested briefly, and then declared unfit for military service. It is unclear if the Turkish military will try to do the same with Enver Aydemir, or if they really want to put him on trial on charges of insubordination and/or desertion.

On 6 January 2010, 23 activists of the Solidarity Initiative with Conscientious Objector Enver Aydemir who were protesting in Ankara demanding the release of Enver Aydemir were arrested by police. 22 were released after more than 24 hours. However, one activists remains in detention.

Sources: War Resisters' International: TURKEY: Conscientious objector Enver Aydemir arrested and mistreated in prison. Now on hunger strike, 29 December 2009, War Resisters' International: TURKEY: Update on conscientious objector Enver Aydemir, 30 December 2009, A-Infos: Turkey, Ankara: 23 got arrested in solidarity demo with cons. objector- 1 detained!, 7 January 2010; Today's Zaman: First Islamic conscientious objector surfaces, 3 January 2010; Bianet: Torture Allegations by Conscientious Objector Aydemir, 30 December 2009