TURKEY: Conscientious objectors arrested


Turkish conscientious objector Mehment Bal presented himself to the army on Thursday, and was arrested immediately. Today he was transferred to the military prison in Adana. War Resisters' International is concerned about his safety, and therefore calls for protest faxes to the military prison in Adana. Adana 6. Kolordu Askeri Cezaevi
Adana, Turkey
Tel. +90-322-322 83 67
Fax: +90-322-322 81 36

Mehmet Bal is a unique case of a conscientious objector, and probably many will feel uncomfortable about this case. Osman Murat Ülke, Turkey's first conscientious objector who spent 2 1/2 years in prison from 1996-1999, met him in the Military Prison of Eskisehir. He wrote about him in a letter published in Peace News December 1999-February 2002 (in which he called him Ahmet). In this letter he describes the circumstances in his prison cell, which was lead by Ahmet. Osman Murat Ülke first encountered a boycott against him, but was released soon. He returned to the same cell soon, after being rearrested because of his conscientious objection. He writes: "This time my roommates were quite surprised, because they saw that my stay was not a coincidence. They realised that I was serious about conscientious objection and that I chose to be there. Ahmet had difficulty accepting this and so he started discussing this with me. After a while we came to the point of living peacefully together. "Although our thoughts were in conflict, he began to respect me, followed by a kind of friendship. Observing my behaviour in prison, Ahmet tried more and more to understand my principles. So we began to discuss, in a more relaxed way, ethics, religion, anthropology, history, nationalism, psychology and so on. He was reading the books my friends brought me and one day one of these books acted like an explosion inside him. "After nearly two years of knowing each other, his rate of change gets faster and faster. ..." Mehmet Bal (alias Ahmet) was imprisoned because of murder, and at the time Osman Murat Ülke met him in prison, he was a fascist. In March 1999 he was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. Osman Murat Ülke describes his process of change above. About 4 month ago an amnesty granted by the Turkish constitutional court lead to his release, and he was immediately ordered to report to his military unit in Mersin. He went there and refused to bear arms. He then was allowed to serve in the library of the barracks. Four weeks ago he was granted holidays. During this time he decided not to continue to serve - even in the library - but to declare his conscientious objection to military service.

War Resisters' International calls for support letters to Mehmet Bal: Mehmet Bal
Adana 6. Kolordu Askeri Cezaevi
Adana, Turkey

War Resisters' International calls for protest letters to the Turkish authorities, especially the Military Prison in Adana, and Turkish embassies abroad. Please mention that you are concerned about Mehmet Bal's safety.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Mehmet Bal.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International