Conscientious objector Halil Savda

Not sent after

Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (President Abdullah Gul). 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 Mr President Abdullah Gul,

I am very concerned about the recent imprisonment of Turkish conscientious objector Halil Savda. Halil Savda was arrested on 27 March 2008, during a solidarity demonstration for conscientious objector Ismail Saygi.
on charges of "persistent disobedience" or "desertion". On 12 April 2007, Halil Savda had been sentenced to six month imprisonment on charges of "persistent disobedience" between 25 January and 5 February 2007. On 15 March of the same year, he had already been sentenced to 15.5 months imprisonment on charges of desertion. Both sentences constitute a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), both of which Turkey has signed and ratified.

Halil Savda had been released from prison on 28 July 2007, after serving the six months prison sentence, as at that time an appeal against the 15.5 months sentence was still pending. However, this appeal had been turned down recently. In addition, Halil Savda had been ordered to report to 'his' military unit within 48 hours, which he did not do. Following this, an arrest warrant on charges of desertion had been issued. Following his arrest on 27 March, it is highly likely that Halil Savda will be brought to 'his' military prison in Corlu, to serve his 15.5 months sentence, and to await trial on new charges of desertion. This means that it is highly likely that after serving his present sentence, he will need to serve a new sentence, and might also be brought back to the military unit, only to be given - and refuse - new military orders.

In the case of Turkish conscientious objector Osman Murat Ulke, the European Court of Human Rights complained about Turkey's lack of a recognition of the right to conscientious objection. In it's judgement on the merits of the case, the European Court of Human Rights, on 24 January 2006, came to the conclusion: "The numerous criminal prosecutions against the applicant, the cumulative effects of the criminal convictions which resulted from them and the constant alternation between prosecutions and terms of imprisonment, together with the possibility that he would be liable to prosecution for the rest of his life, had been disproportionate to the aim of ensuring that he did his military service. They were more calculated to repressing the applicant's intellectual personality, inspiring in him feelings of fear, anguish and vulnerability capable of humiliating and debasing him and breaking his resistance and will. The clandestine life amounting almost to 'civil death' which the applicant had been compelled to adopt was incompatible with the punishment regime of a democratic society.
Consequently, the Court considered that, taken as a whole and regard being had to its gravity and repetitive nature, the treatment inflicted on the applicant had caused him severe pain and suffering which went beyond the normal element of humiliation inherent in any criminal sentence or detention. In the aggregate, the acts concerned constituted degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3."

I urge you to respect the spirit of the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights, and to immediately release conscientious objector Halil Savda. I urge you to respect human rights.