Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan.
Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of the Turkish Republic). You can add your own notes in a separate box after the standard text, if you wish. You must include a name, address, and email address; a copy will be sent to you with a cc to the WRI office (so we have a record of how many email letters have been sent out for this particular case).
Dear Mr President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
I am very concerned about the treatment of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, who was arrested at 5am on 8 April 2005. He was held at the police station in Izmir until the recruitment office opened, and then reassigned to a military unit in Tokat, although he had declared himself a conscientious objector.
On arrival at the Military Prison in Sivas, staff sergeant Mustafa Selvi threatened Mehmet Tarhan with transfer to "Common Cell No 2", where the "wildest" prisoners are imprisoned. Later Mehmet Tarhan was ordered to enter "Common Cell No 1" on his own. The cell was dark, and the inmates (which Mehmet Tarhan could not see) ordered him to sit down on a chair next to the door. They started to ask questions. They wanted to know whether he was a terrorist or traiter, in which case they would kill him. Then the inmates started to beat Mehmet Tarhan, and insulted him because of his long hair.
Prisoner Ertan Mertoglu showed his weapon to Mehmet Tarhan and threatened to kill him.
This attacked was ended by other prisoners. Mehmet Tarhan was then transferred to the dormitory, where a few moments later the same prisoners attacked him again. The beat him everywhere and pulled on his hair. The attack turned into an act of lynching. After 20 minutes, other prisoners again stopped the attack.
After the attack in Common Cell No 2, the light bulbs in the cell were tightened again, so that the normal light in the cells was made to work again. This indicates that the attack had been prepared.
Later, the prisoners who beat Mehmet Tarhan came to him and told him that staff sergeant Mustafa Selvi had told them that he was a terrorist, and "you know how you have to deal with him". They said that this was the reason they beat him.
Mehmet Tarhan was then transferred to a single cell, but during each time Mehmet Tarhan left the cell, the prisoners Ertan Mertoglu, Hakki Dincel, Ersoy Özbulduk, and Ercan Kizilboga threatened him. They told him: "We could have killed you on the first day if we wanted. But we still can do it."
Mehmet Tarhan was fearing of his life, and therefore did not tell anyone. But then the prisoners demanded first money, and later clothes, and telephone cards.
On 29 April, the prisoners Hakki Dincel, Ersoy Özbulduk, and Ertan Mertoglu demanded 500YTL (about 290EUROs) and added he would know what to expect, if he would not pay. Mehmet Tarhan answered that he is unable to pay such an amount. One week later he submitted to the threats and handed over 300YTL to Ercan Kizilboga and Ertan Mertoglu.
Then, his extortioners demanded clothers. On 9 May 2005 they demanded three black suits. To guarantee that he would deliver, they forced him to call his sister and listened during the phone conversation. On 11 May 2005, Emine Tarhan brought two black suits, shoes, tyes, and shirts to the prison, which were handed over to Ertan Mertoglu by the prison authorities.
Mehmet Tarhan's upper lip and the right side of his lower lip cracked as a result of these attacks. He is suffering ecchymosis at the chin, the neck, and other parts of his body. As a result of being beaten on his chest he suffered from breathing problems until 30 April.
In the following days, he contiunously lost hair. Because of being beaten on his knee, legs, and feet he suffered from ecchymosis there, and for a long time had difficulties standing up.
Mehmet Tarhan informed the prison authorities about the abuse on his first day. As the report above shows, the prison authorities did do nothing to stop the abuse, and actively encouraged other prisoners to abuse Mehmet Tarhan.
After her visit on 19 May, Mehmet Tarhan's lawyer Suna Coskun alerted the prison authorities, and demanded an examination of Mehmet Tarhan, and a new lock for Mehmet Tarhan's cell.
On 20 May, the prison authorities recorded the abuse, and promised to ensure his safety. However, I still fear for his safety.
I call on you to ensure the safety of imprisoned conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan. As Turkey does not recognise the right to conscientious objection (in contradiction to Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), it should at least make sure that those conscientious objectors it throws into prison are safe.
I call on you to respect the right to life, and the right to conscientious objection.