Press release from the Conscientious Objection Association, Turkey

To the press and the public;

While the society is being tried to be made more hostile within each other day by day with the militarist and nationalist speeches that have increased after the termination of the solution process, the militarist pressure on the society is now changing shape. In these days when the militarist language is becoming dominant, the pressure on the society doesn’t remain as just words. In this context; the provisions of the law which have been in force for years but have never been applied in practice, have started to being put into practice.

The latest example of these practices has appeared as the notices of the Ministry of National Defense sent to the work places of the people who have evaded enlistment. These practices which are based on the Military Criminal Act art.75 have started a pressuring mechanism which aims to have the employees who have evaded enlistment get sacked. Via Ministry “notifications” sent to the employers, it is stated that having employees who have evaded enlistment is a “crime”, and therefore the employers are pressurized to “direct these employees to a military office.” As stated in the Notice; those employers, who do not direct the employees in question to a military office, are threatened with punishment up to two years of imprisonment in State of Emergency conditions.

We know from the recent applications made to our association that many people are facing the danger of losing their jobs on the grounds that they have not enlisted to the army. It should be stated once more that as a reflection of the State of Emergency conditions we are living in; this practice, which targets about 400.000 people who haven’t done or have refused to do the compulsory military service, is a violation of human rights.

As well as the Notices sent by the Ministry of National Defense are creating sanctions against the people who have evaded military service; they are also giving signs to what kind of a process the State of Emergency conditions will evolve into. The government, willing to preserve and take further the State of Emergency and war conditions which it has started after July 15 using the military coup attempt as excuse, is continuing to attack our lives with all its might.

As the Conscientious Objection Association, we state once more that conscientious objection is a human right and the State of Turkey is violating the international agreements it has signed by not recognizing this right. The government, who doesn’t recognize conscientious objection as a right and ignores the conscientious objectors, has now intended to pressurize and suppress the people who haven’t done the compulsory military service.

Nobody can be deprived of their right to work and be suppressed for refusing the compulsory military service. We call everybody who is facing the danger of losing their jobs because of the Notice mentioned above to apply to our association as soon as possible; as VR-DER, we announce that we will be providing legal counseling to those who are victims of this practice.

Nobody can be forced to become a soldier!

Conscientious objection is a human right!

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION ASSOCIATION