Turkey: Conscientious objector appeared in court on charges of turning the people against military service

by Yakup Çetin

(22.11.2011) Conscientious objector (CO) Süleyman Tatar appeared in court on Monday on charges of “turning the people against military service,” a crime under Article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Tatar, a member of the Conscientious Objection for Peace platform, is accused of making society hostile toward military service with his remarks in an anti-war press statement he made during a protest at Boğaziçi University.

Both Tatar and his lawyer were present at the trial. During the hearing, Tatar said he was against forcibly sending men to serve in the military, noting that conscientious objection was a constitutional right.

Military service is compulsory for all men in Turkey in the form of six months of compulsory army service for university graduates and 12 months for graduates of high school or lower schools.

In the face of mounting pressure from the Council of Europe (CoE), Turkey has been considering decriminalizing conscientious objection. Government officials said last week that the Defense Ministry was working on a draft to make other options, such as public service, available for COs.

Currently, COs face accusations under TCK Article 318, and are also accused of disobeying orders and continuing to disobey orders under the military penal code. The second offense perpetuates jail sentences handed to COs by military courts, and most of them are imprisoned in military jails for nearly two years. There have also been widespread allegations of psychological and physical abuse of COs in military prisons.

The İstanbul 31st Court of Peace, which is hearing the case, adjourned the trial to a later date, which has not yet been announced. The prosecutor demands between six months to two years in jail for Tatar on charges of turning the people against military service.

Yakup Çetin, Today’s Zaman: Conscientious objector appeared in court on charges of turning people against army service. 21 November 2011. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-263475-co-appears-in-court-on-charges-of-turning-people-against-army-service.html

Keywords:    ⇒ Military   ⇒ Prosecution   ⇒ Turkey