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TURKEY: Police searching for Turkish/Kurdish CO Halil Savda / fear of safety

  • Turkey

War Resisters' International fears for the safety of Turkish/Kurdish conscientious objector Halil Savda (TK14682). Following the recent eruption of violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey, which left several people dead (see for example BBC, 3 April 2006, Indymedia UK, 4 April 2006), Halil Savda issued a press release on 8 April 2006. On April 10 he gave an interview on Roj TV. As a conscientious objector, he called for conscientious objection in light of the recent violence.
Today, on 11 April 2006 at noon local time, the gendarmerie entered his town looking for him. All houses in the village were searched, including his own, but Halil Savda was not found. Since then, Turkish activists have not been able to establish contact.
Halil Savda was born in Sirnak/Cizre in 1974, and graduated from primary school. In 1993, he was arrested and held for 1 month in Sirnak/Cizre, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. The State Security Court then charged him with "supporting an illegal organisation (the PKK - Kurdish Workers Party)". He was then sent to prison, and released in 1996. Upon release from prison, he was called up for military service.
He first went to his military unit for basic training, but he did not report to "his" unit after his transfer at the end of basic training.
In 1997, he was again arrested, and the State Security Court charged him with "membership in an illegal organisation (PKK)".
The Adana State Security Court sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
Following a change in the Turkish Penal Code, he was released from prison on 18 November 2004, and was sent handcuffed from prison to Antep Gendarmerie Station because of his desertion from military service. The he was held for six days in a cell without a bed, only with a few blankets. The Army Officers did not allow him to see his family, and he was held in isolation for the six days. On 25 November, he was transferred to "his" military unit in Corlu-Tekirdag. There he declared that because of the torture he had to endure in 1993, he cannot serve as a soldier. In a letter to the Commander he declared himself a conscientious objector, and demands that Turkey finally recognises the right to conscientious objection. On 16 December, he was questioned at the Corlu Military Court. He was then formally arrested for "insisting on disobedience" and transferred from the military unit to Corlu Military Prison. He was released on 28 December 2004, without the case being closed.

War Resisters' International is exremely concerned about the safety of Halil Savda.

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes and emails to:

* Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312-4271330, email

* A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be sent at .

War Resisters' International calls on the Turkish authorities to respect the right to freedom of speech, and the right to conscientious objection.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International
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