Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Bal was arrested again yesterday. Three officers of JITEM, the secrect service of the Turkish gendarmie, visited the place where he was staying, and demanded that he followed them. It could be observed that they left the house, and met a police van parked around the corner. There they had a discussion with the police, which didn't want to arrest Mehmet Bal. For a couple of hours his whereabouts were unknown - something even more worrying as JITEM is known for torture and unlawful executions. Later it was found out that Mehmet Bal was at the recruitment office in Yenisehir. Four lawyers went their and demanded to talk to him, which was only granted after two hours of discussion, and a phone conversation between the highest military prosecutor and the chairperson of the lawyers chamber. They were only allowed to see him for 10 minutes. Mehmet Bal declared himself a conscientious objector on 24 October 2002, and announced that he was not willing to continue to serve in the military. He presented himself on the next day, and was arrest (see TK12718-251002). He refused to wear a uniform, and was severly mistreated. In protest he started a hunger strike (see TK12718-011102). On 27 November, Mehmet Bal was released, and got order to present himself to the recruitment office. There he got order to report to "his" unit within two days - which he didn't do.
The whole process of his arrest is very unusual. Normally a deserter would be arrested by the police.
Mehmet Bal's situation is not yet clear. Mehmet is in good spirit, and decided not to eat for the time being - until his situation is clear.
War Resisters' Internatial calls for letters of protest to the Turkish authorities, demanding the recognition of Mehmet Bal's human right to conscientious objection.
War Resisters' International
Ahmet Nezdet Sezer
Office of the President
06100 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 468 5026
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Balgat 06100 Ankara - Turkey
E-mail : email@example.com
Addresses of Turkish embassies can be found here: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/grupg/ge/be.htm