Cyprus

The webinar series Campaigning for Conscientious Objection to Military Service continue with a new event on 30th March (4pm BST, 5pm CEST, 6pm Cyprus and Israel). On this webinar, we will be focusing on public awareness with activists from Cyprus, Israel and Finland presenting their campaigns on conscientious objection.

64 organisations from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey published a statement calling for an end to fossil fuel explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean which fuel the militarisation in the region. The statement calls on the actors to take action for climate justice rather than conflicting over fossil fuel reserves. Read the full statement here.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has accepted a Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector's application against Turkey. Conscientious objector Halil Karapasaoglu, based in North Cyprus - a self-declared state recognised only by Turkey, was sentenced to 20 days in prison in January 2019. His sentence was cut short to 3 days after his successful appeal. In July 2019, Karapasaoglu submitted an application to the ECtHR for violations of articles 5, 6 and 9 of the ECHR - referring to deprivation of liberty, the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion respectively.

In January, there were significant developments for conscientious objectors in Northern Cyprus: Conscientious objector Halil Karapasaoglu, who has repeatedly declared his refusal to perform reserve service, was put on trial and sentenced to a fine - which Halil refused to pay and was imprisoned. Meanwhile, Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus mobilised hundreds of people to support Halil - both on the streets and on social media. Halil was released following his appeal. In parallel to the public discussions on Halil's case, the government of the North Cyprus, a self-declared state recognised only by Turkey, announced a draft law recognising the right to conscientious objection.

On 26-28 May, activists from Greece, Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Cyprus (both south and north) gathered in Nicosia (Cyprus) for a 3-day training, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation, organised by War Resisters' International. During the training, participants explored gendered dimensions of youth militarisation within their societies as well as discussing how to work internationally to counter these processes.

My name is Erman and I was born on one side of this divided Cyprus in 1990. The division of the island started a long time before I was born, in 1974, but the roots of the division started even earlier. When we say 'division', it could refer to one of two things: the division in our mind, or the wall that separates this whole island into two.

Conscientious objector groups from the eastern Mediterranean region have recently issued a statement on the ongoing military crisis in their region. Declaring their solidarity with refugees escaping from war and repression, they made a call to the international community to pursue peaceful solutions, rather than militarised ones, for the ongoing violence in the region. “The world's reaction to the current regional violence,” the statement declares, “should be building societies, assisting refugees, and mediating between fighting parties, not selling arms, bombings and providing military assistance.”

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We are conscientious objectors from all around the eastern Mediterranean region. Our region has suffered for so long from oppression, injustice, militarisation, military occupations and wars, as well as poverty, illiteracy, hunger and lack of social infrastructure. In this difficult period, when our region seems to fall even more into the chaos of war, we raise a common voice for peace and against militarisation.

We refuse to allow this cycle of violence, initiated by oppressive states and economic interests, to continue; we refuse to be a part of it; we refuse to be enemies with people who just happen to be of a different nationality or religion; we will not be dragged into their wars and armies leading to death and destruction in the region.

Conscientious objector Haluk Selam Tufanlı has been imprisoned in northern Cyprus for refusing to undertake reserve military service. International actions were held on Tuesday 9th December 2014, in Athens, Istanbul, Nicossia and London.

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You can also protest in writing to the authorities in Northern Cyprus. Find all the details here (including an email alert): NORTHERN CYPRUS: Haluk Selam Tufanlı imprisoned

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