Welcome to the special edition of The Broken Rifle for Prisoners for Peace Day - 1 December. This year we focus on the situation in Turkey. We made this decision before the present escalation of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, which again highlights the power of the military in Turkish society and politics: it is the institution which stands above everything - the government, the constitution, international human rights standards.
In January 2007, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg decided on the case of Turkish conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke, who between 1997 and 1999 spent 2 1/2 years in military prison on numerous charges of „disobedience".
"Patriotic service is a right and duty for every Turkish citizen", states article 72 of the Turkish constitution. Military service is thus a seemingly inevitable part of a Turkish man's life, and the thought that a man who is not physically unfit would not serve in the country's military can almost not be voiced in public. Turkey as a military-nation and the myth that "every Turk is born a soldier" has been carefully crafted since the early times of the new Turkish republic, and only recently does this myth begin to show cracks.
Osman Murat Ülke declared his conscientious objection and burned his call-up papers on 1 September 1995 in Izmir. He was arrested more than a year later - on 7 October 1996 - on charges of Article 155, "alienating the people from the military".
(1) Persons who give incentives or make suggestions or spread propaganda which will have the effect of discouraging people from performing military service shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to two years.
The Broken Rifle is the newsletter of War Resisters' International, and is published in English, Spanish, French and German. This is issue 76, November 2007. This issue of The Broken Rifle was produced by Andreas Speck. Special thanks go to all those who provided information for the Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll. If you want extra copies of this issue of The Broken Rifle, please contact the WRI office, or download it from our website.
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