Campaigns: Support Turkish objectors

International support for Turkish COs continues to be very important. This page contains links to CO testimony and to recent WRI alerts and reports on the situation of conscientious objectors in Turkey.

WRI Statements

09 Feb 2011

War Resisters' International (WRI), an international network of pacifist and antimilitarist organisations with more than 90 affiliates in more than 40 countries, condemns the persecution of Turkish antimilitarist and feminist Pinar Selek. For 12 years now, Pinar Selek has been under prosecution for a crime she did not commit and in connection with which there is no evidence against her - the so-called bombing of the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul on 09 July 1998. Pinar Selek was arrested in 1998, tortured during investigation and spent two and a half years in prison.

02 Jul 2005

The council meeting of War Resisters' International in Seoul, Korea 30 June - 2 July 2005 demands the immediate release of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan and the full recognition of his right to consceintious objection. Mehmet Tarhan is a well known activist on issues of antimilitarism and gay rights in Turkey. He was arrested on April 8th, 2005, on the grounds he was a "roll call deserter".

CO Alerts

22 Oct 2014

UPDATE 28 October: the trial has been postponed, please continue to send the protest email until the new trial date - 5 November: send a protest email here.


21 Oct 2014

WRI's affiliate in Turkey, Vicdani Ret Derneği, have issued an appeal on behalf of one of their board members, Ali Fikri Işık, a conscientious objector awaiting sentencing now.

19 Jul 2013

Onur ErdenOnur ErdenAfter his demand for political asylum was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish conscientious objector Onur Erden was deported back to Istanbul via Jordan on Thursday, July 11th. He was arrested after his appearance in the court and transferred to military prison in Kasimpasa Naval Base in Istanbul. On 17 July, he was transferred to the 2nd Army Corps Command Military Prison in Gelibolu, Çanakkale. He remains in custody.

08 Mar 2013

On 27th February, conscientious objector Ali Fikri Işık was sentenced to serve 1 year and 15 days in Edirne Military Prison for 'desertion'. Since 27th February, Ali Fikri Işık has been on hunger strike.

Isik has already served 4.5 months in Edirne Military Prison for 'draft evasion'. He declared his conscientious objection whilst on trial in the military court.

You can send a protest email here.

Background information

21 Sep 2012

War Resisters' International has learnt of the reimprisonment of conscientious objector İnan Suver on 12 September 2012. He was arrested in Istanbul during a routine identity check.

He has been re-arrested for escaping from hospital whilst serving a prison sentence for conscientious objection.

İnan was sentenced in absentia to five months imprisonment for his escape from prison.

Other posts

01 Nov 2007

In January 2007, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg decided on the case of Turkish conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke, who between 1997 and 1999 spent 2 1/2 years in military prison on numerous charges of „disobedience".

01 Nov 2007

"Patriotic service is a right and duty for every Turkish citizen", states article 72 of the Turkish constitution. Military service is thus a seemingly inevitable part of a Turkish man's life, and the thought that a man who is not physically unfit would not serve in the country's military can almost not be voiced in public. Turkey as a military-nation and the myth that "every Turk is born a soldier" has been carefully crafted since the early times of the new Turkish republic, and only recently does this myth begin to show cracks.

01 Nov 2007

Osman Murat Ülke declared his conscientious objection and burned his call-up papers on 1 September 1995 in Izmir. He was arrested more than a year later - on 7 October 1996 - on charges of Article 155, "alienating the people from the military".

01 Nov 2007
Article 318:
(1) Persons who give incentives or make suggestions or spread propaganda which will have the effect of discouraging people from performing military service shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to two years.
01 Apr 2007

Halil Savda faces second sentence for insistence on disobedience

With a second trial for "insistance on disobedience" (Article 88) presently going on, Turkish conscientious objector Halil Savda is well on the path to what the European Court of Human Rights had called 'civil death' in its judgement on the case of Turkish fellow objector Osman Murat Ülke.

The background to Halil Savda's case is appalling:

  1. Halil Savda was called up for military service in 1996. At first he followed this call-up order, and finished his basic training.
30 Mar 2007

Turkish/Kurdish conscientious objector Halil Savda has been severely punished for his declared conscientious objection on 15 March 2007, when he has been sentenced to 15 ½ months imprisonment on charges of desertion and disobeying orders – by the same court that is now to try him again for disobeying orders. He is likely to be sentenced to a further six months of imprisonment at the next trial session on 12 April.

War Resisters' International calls for an international day of action in solidarity with Halil Savda on the day of his trial, and likely sentencing.

30 Mar 2007

After the release of Mehmet Tarhan in March last year (see co-alert, 10 March 2006), it became more quiet about conscientious objectors in Turkey. However, persecution continues, and even though Mehmet Tarhan had been released, he was sentenced to 25 months imprisonment on 10 October 2006 (see co-alert, 17 October 2006).

26 Mar 2007

From: War Resisters' International
5 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9DX, Britain

cc: Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, fax: +32-2-29 58561
United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, fax: +41-22- 9179006

To: Kara Kuvvetleri Komut Anligi
5 NcI Kolordu Komutanligi
Askeri Mahkemesi

01 Feb 2007

On 27 and 28 January 2007, an international conference on conscientious objection took place at Bilgi university in Istanbul. The conference was organised by a small conference committee, and supported by Amnesty International Turkey, Connection e.V., European Bureau for Conscientious Objectors, Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Human Rights Watch, Istanbul Branch Human Rights Association, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, War Resisters' International, and others.

30 Jan 2007

Conscientious objection as it is "generally" understood today was first legally recognised in Europe and Australia in the early 20th century. However, legal and political concepts of conscientious objection are varied, and movements for conscientious objection respond to militarism differently, based on political circumstances and systems of recruitment.

Based on three case studies, the authors explain important issues/challenges for CO movements.

Forum posts

14 Aug 2012

Criticized in the previous years for asking gays to bring photos of them taken during sexual intercourse in order for them to receive a so-called “rotten” (unfit) report that would exempt them from mandatory military service, Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) now gave up on this method and found a derivative of it.

01 Aug 2012

Turkey’s first conscientious objector to mandatory military service passed away at the age of 54 due to a heart attack on Monday night. A doctor by training, Tayfun Gönül had made critical contributions to the antimilitarist movement in Turkey, according to his friends.

BIA News Center
31 July 2012, Tuesday

27 Jun 2012

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said his ministry is continuing to work on options for dealing with conscientious objectors.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the minister said their efforts are aimed at protecting the Turkish state from new fines to be imposed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) due to Turkey's policy of mandatory military service. In Turkey, military service is compulsory for all male citizens over the age of 20; however, if a man is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, he is allowed to delay his service until he completes his education.

22 May 2012

At the end of Conscientious Objection Week, 14 people declared their conscientious objections following the march from Tünel to Taksim Square.

At the end of Conscientious Objection Week, conscientious objectors and anti-militarists came together at Tunel district and marched to Taksim Square. Following the march and the press statement, 14 people declared their conscientious objections.

10 Apr 2012

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

The new constitution being prepared is an opportunity to introduce alternative forms of military service and an individual right to object to using a gun or oppose all military service activities, conscientious objectors tell a commission working on the new charter, highlighting a European Council decision favoring such rights.

The Conscientious Objectors Platform made a presentation at Parliament’s constitution-making commission yesterday to demand the right for males to opt out of compulsory military service.

12 Mar 2012

The Malatya Military Court claimed that decisions of the ECHR regarding conscientious objection could also be applied to domestic law in the scope of Article 90 of the Constitution. This landmark ruling was the result of the trial against conscientious objector Delice.

Malatya - Izmir - Bia News Agency

12 March 2012, Monday

29 Feb 2012

Conscientious objector Savda was arrested and taken to prison upon the approval of a five-month prison sentence on charges of "alienating the public from military service". Amnesty International Turkey and the Human Rights Foundation condemned his arrest.

Conscientious objector Halil Savda was taken into police custody at a hotel in Doğubeyazıt (Ağrı/eastern Turkey) at around six o'clock on Friday morning (24 February). He was brought to the Doğubeyazıt Closed Prison.

21 Jun 2010

Posted: 21 June 2010

On 17 June 2010 human rights defender Halil Savda and three other activists were convicted under Article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code which criminalises ‘alienating the public from military service’. The case was opened against them following their attendance at a public demonstration on 6 January 2010 in support of conscientious objector and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Enver Aydemir, who had been in military detention since 24 December 2009 for refusing to perform military service.

11 Jun 2010

Conscientious objector Aydemir was relaeased upon an "incapability report". His lawyer criticized that the legislation lacks provisions on conscientious objection. Turkey is one of three countries of the European Council that does not recognize the right to conscientious objection.

Istanbul - BİA News Center
11 June 2010, Friday

20 Nov 2009

19 November 2009
Amnesty International has welcomed the conviction of three Turkish soldiers for “intentionally wounding” a conscientious objector while he was in military custody.

A military court in Istanbul sentenced the soldiers to three months and 10 days' imprisonment on 13 November for the “intentional wounding” of Mehmet Bal in June 2008.

Mehmet Bal was arrested for evading military service on 8 June and detained at Hasdal Military Prison in Istanbul.