Support Prisoners for Peace
Support War Resisters' International's work on nonviolence in Turkey
War Resisters' International has been working with Turkish war resisters since the early 1990s. Besides support to conscientious objectors facing imprisonment, WRI worked closely with nonviolent activists in developing nonviolent alternatives in Turkey.
"I would like to end with a few words to the [...] activists, who showed me their solidarity throughout these years. I never received your letters, but when it became clear that the army was interrupting the flow of letters coming my way, my group, the Izmir War Resisters' Association, started to collect them. In just three months more than 2.500 letters arrived in Izmir. Even though I couldn't read them, my friends told me about the flow. Upon release, one of the first things I did was to examine this mountain of post. I'll never finish them all! So, thank you very very much for being with me."
Osman Murat Ülke, The Broken Rifle No 44, November 1999
Imprisoned from 7th October 1996 until 9th March 1999
"In short, military as an institution creates a certain type of citizen. It forces or humiliates those who don't conform to this type. It transforms the culture of violence and hierarchy into an unquestionable cult. It bases its raison d'etre and the supposed necessity of its future existence on this cult. In this process, it needs to create its others. These others should constantly posit danger, or rather, people should be convinced they do. Perhaps we can define this coaxing of people into believing they are in constant danger as a form of terrorism. Here is a sharp but working definition: The military as an institution is a terrorist organization, which abides by patriarchal, heterosexual, bodily, and mental norms. This is what the institution of military means to me."
Interview for the Spanish newspaper Diagonal, January 2005
"The term 'nonviolence' was used for the first time in the principles of this association [the Izmir War Resisters Association]. In the beginning, nonviolence didn't make so much concrete sense for the people who were living in a violent culture. Within the association, it was always a discussion point for all members to find out practical ways of living nonviolence. This was really hard for the members who believed in nonviolence because of a lack of cultural experiences.
Our group believes that it is possible to eliminate all kinds of inequalities, discrimination and thus violence and to develop nonviolent actions and methods for social and political change. Therefore, with the principle 'Nonviolence is not an aspiration to be achieved in the future, but at the same time the very means to achieve such a goal' our group starts questioning everyday life practices that may seem to be 'neutral'. For over ten years our group has been learning, practising and teaching the means and methods of nonviolence, an attitude towards life that we are now developing as a life principle."
WRI Council member, Turkey