Conscientious Objector Savda Arrested again

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.

Subsequent to a health check Savda was brought to the police and from there to the prosecutor's office. The conscientious objector was arrested under allegations of "alienating the public from military service".

Savda's lawyer Ruhat Özbay said in a statement made to bianet that a trial was opened against his client based on Article 318 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) on "alienating the public from military service" by reasons of a press release made by Savda in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul on 1 August 2006.

This trial resulted in a five-months prison sentence handed down to Savda. According to Özbay, his client was taken into custody and arrested on Friday upon the finalization of the verdict.

Özbay explained that Savda was arrested because he had said "Don't go to the military" at the end of the press release in 2006.

One day before, on 23 February, an arrest warrant was released about Savda in the context of a different trial, Özbay said. Savda was going to be taken to court in order to give his statement related to that trial. After that, he would be brought back to the Doğubeyazıt Prison, according to the lawyer.

Savda had supported Israeli conscientious objectors Itzik Shabbat and Amir Paster in the press release that criticized Israel's occupation of Lebanon.

IA and İHD condemn Savda's arrest

The Amnesty International (IA) Turkey Branch and the Human Rights Foundation (İHD) condemned the arrest of conscientious objector Halil Savda and demanded his immediate release.

In their press releases, the İHD and IA called for the removal of Article 318 TCK. The organizations also urged for measures to recognize the right to conscientious objection in Turkey.

Üsterci: "Unacceptable"

Writer Çoşkun Üsterci criticized that Savda's arrest was "unacceptable". Üsterci is the co-author of the book "A Spanner in the Works: Conscientious Objection" ('Çarklardaki Kum: Vidani Ret') that deals with arrest and imprisonment based on Article 318.

In an interview with bianet, Üsterci remembered related decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and announcements by Thomas Hammarberg, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe. He claimed that conscientious objection had to be recognized as a legal right in Turkey due to the obligations of international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory. (EKN)

Bianet, 27 February 2012