(15.05.2021) This booklet is published 30 years after the first public declarations of conscientious objection. It takes stock, describes the solidarity work for the conscientious objection movement from abroad and gives a voice to conscientious objectors, some of whom were active in Turkey for years and have now gone into exile, with an uncertain outcome.
A main focus of this booklet is on the reports of conscientious objectors who have gone into exile. They portray the everyday reality of militarism in Turkey. Beran Mehmet İşçi, Ercan Aktaş, Halil Savda, Mertcan Güler and Onur Erden make clear how important their decisions against war and violence are to them and what repressions they were consequently subjected to. Despite all the imprisonment, torture and repression they have suffered, the reports radiate something positive, pleading for a world without war, oppression, military and violence.
(15.05.2021) In the 1990s, several hundred conscripts from Turkey applied for asylum in Germany and other countries. They went public with their conscientious objection, made it clear in front of the Turkish consulate, at press conferences or on other occasions that they were not willing to serve in the Turkish military, especially in protest against the war then waged in southeast Turkey. In many cases, their applications were initially rejected by the authorities. In some cases, they actually succeeded in obtaining protection under refugee law. Quite often this outcome derived from the fact that they had to expect additional criminal prosecution because of their public conscientious objection.
(15.05.2021) The history of conscription is a history of militarisation. It is a breathtaking story. And conscription is still effective today in countries like Turkey.
I was to be forced to comply with military orders. When I refused, I was beaten and insulted. I was arrested four times and released each time. Each time after release I was transferred to the barracks again. In total, I spent 18 months in the military prison.
(15.05.2021) I will start with the first day when I was 19 years old. I was sitting in the garden and got a visit from a talkative friend. He told me that we had to show up for the physical examination. I told him, “I won’t go to the military, you can go.” I can’t explain why I wanted to refuse even then, but there was always a voice inside me telling me that something couldn’t be right with the military service.
My friend was stunned and said, “Rebel against the state! They will make you disappear! Where will you go?” He said many foolish things when I talked back at him. At last he turned to my mother and said, “Aunty, you would also be in trouble, they will pressure you to deny help and support to a criminal.”