WRI Council Statement on Turkish Conscientious Objector Mehmet Tarhan
The council meeting of War Resisters' International in Seoul, Korea 30 June - 2 July 2005 demands the immediate release of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan and the full recognition of his right to consceintious objection. Mehmet Tarhan is a well known activist on issues of antimilitarism and gay rights in Turkey. He was arrested on April 8th, 2005, on the grounds he was a "roll call deserter". War Resisters' International has been following his case since, and has denounced the continued violations on his person, including torture, threats and denial of his legal rights as a "military" prisoner. His first trial has been adjourned, and he is now waiting for a second trial. Given the experience we have on the case of Osman Murat Ülke, we fear that Mehmet Tarhan will be subject to repeated imprisonment for the same alleged crime, which is in contradiction to UN convention on civil and political rights.
No person should be imprisoned or otherwise punished based on his or her convictions, and one of the most evident such cases is that of refusing to learn how to kill other people. Turkey has for long enough evaded its responsibility to grant its citizens their full rights of conscientious objection. Human rights are not an issue of internal political debate, but inalienable rights of all members of the human family.
War Resisters' International stresses the importance of releasing Mehmet Tarhan, and demands the full recognition of the right to conscientious objection, so no other Turkish CO be treated in that way.