Turkey: Conscientious objector Ossi harassed again
WRI, along with the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation, submitted a letter to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the case of Osman Murat Ülke.
Find the letter here.
Astoundingly, two decades after his imprisonment, Osman Murat Ülke was summoned to the police station again this week by the prosecutor in Bilecik, who has reopened his case, and ordered him to make a statement at the local police station. Ossi was the first conscientious objector arrested in Turkey, having burnt his military papers publicly at a press conference in Izmir on 1 September 1995. The following decade included repeated arrests and imprisonments, and his case was eventually taken to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in his favour. You can read the story of his case from then here.
In 2014, there was an "administrative decision" which said there was no arrest warrant for Ossi. This didn't mean his charges were dropped, just that he cannot be arrested. Depending on the political climate of course, this administrative order could be changed.
Here is the statement he gave at the police station:
Statement by Osman Murat Ülke to the police (Izmir, 21 November 2917)
I would infer that my being summoned is to testify in the investigation Nr. 2017/2776 by the Prosecutors’ Office of Bilecik. I presume the file is based on charges of “desertion” from 1999.
A look in this file and the trials which preceded it should make it clear for any third party that the matter at hand cannot be described as a series of unrelated desertions or insubordination. Nine files of subordination; two files of desertion and two files of alienating the public from military service, all of these cases stem from one single decision of my conscientious objection to military service, by which I still stand. As such, all the investigations and trials have to be seen as parts of one and the same process.
The real starting point of this process can be traced back to 1990, when I first discovered conscientious objection and then in 1992, the date of the first investigation targeted at me for alienating the public from the military on account of an article published by me. In other words, I was summoned today due to a process which lasted 25 to 27 years so far, occupying my whole adult life.
I don’t deem it necessary to elaborate once more right now on my reasons to become a conscientious objector. The aforementioned files are filled with my statements over the years.
Instead I’d like to point out how the current situation demonstrates that the government has failed to respect the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling in the Ulke v Turkey case. Moreover, that this investigation is even active and that I’m summoned to make a statement not only contradicts all assurances by the government to enact individual and general measures to settle or at least alleviate the situation, it’s an open violation of the very same ruling.
The documents I brought with me clearly show how the government repeatedly assured the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe that it is about to implement individual and general measures. In one of these the Minister of Foreign Affairs rightfully underlines in reference to my case that according to Art. 90 of the Constitution the rulings by ECHR supersede national law.
Yet we witness that despite the passing of eleven years none of the general or individual measures have been implemented and the government does not only stall the process by keeping this investigation alive, but even openly violates the verdict.
Three years ago, I applied to the Constitutional Court regarding the unresolved ECHR verdict. I only received news that my application has been processed and a file has been opened. At this point my demand from the Prosecutors’ Office in Bilecik is that the investigation is dropped. As for the Constitutional Court, it has to end this unsustainable situation. Obviously, the Executive not only delayed the implementation of the general and individual measures, but never really intended to fulfill them at all.
My only intention with this statement is to shed some light on the current state of affairs. My lawyer will file our legal demands in proper detail and address the Prosecutors’ Office of Bilecik and other relevant institutions.