Hem Kıbrıs’ta hem de Yunanistan’da yargılamaları süren Vicdani Retçiler, Uluslararası Af Örgütü etkinliğinde konuşacak…
Kıbrıs’tan Vicdani retçi Murat Kanatlı ve gelecek hafta Selanik’te davası devam edecek olan Vicdani retçi Dimitris Sotiropoulos Atina’da Uluslararası Af Örgütü (UAÖ) Yunanistan örgütünün organize ettiği “Yunanistan, Kıbrıs, Türkiye’de vicdani retçilerle ilgili yasal çerçeve ve soruşturmalar” başlıklı panelde konuşacak…
Panelde ayrıca UAÖ’den Eleni Velivasaki bir sunum yapacak… Paneli gazeteci Ioanna Sotirchou yönetecek…
Vicdani retçi Murat Kanatlı ayrıca Vicdani retçi Dimitris Sotiropoulos’un davası için 13 Mayıs’ta da dayanışma için Selanik’e gidecek…
Vicdani retçi Murat Kanatlı Uluslararası Af Örgütü (UAÖ) Türkiye’nin de davetlisi olarak 14 Mayıs’ta da vicdani ret konusunda bir panele katılmak için İstanbul’da olacak…
Ayrıca Kıbrıs’ta Vicdani Ret İnisiyatifi olarak bu yıl 15 Mayıs dünya vicdani retçiler gününde Kuir Kıbrıs, YKP-fem ile ortak etkinlikler gerçekleştireceğiz…
15 Mayıs Dünya Vicdani Ret Günü vesilesiyle 15 Mayıs Perşembe sabahı saat 10:00’da Asal Şube önünde bir basın açıklaması yapılacak… Yeni vicdani retlerin de açıklanacağı basın açıklamasına ölmeyi ve öldürmeyi reddeden, barışı sözden öte gören herkesi bekleriz.
Aynı gün 15 Mayıs’ta, saat 19:00’da Kuğulu Park, Lefkoşa’da vicdani ret hakkı mücadelesinin yükseltilmesi amacıyla üçüncü vicdani ret forumu da yapılacaktır.
Vicdani ret forumuna da herkesi katılmaya çağırırız…
Uluslararası Af Örgütü
Uluslararası Af Örgütü “Vicdani retçi iki suçlamayla daha karşı karşıya” başlığı ile bir metni imzaya açmıştı, imza kampanyası devam etmekte…
İmzaya açılan metin şöyleydi:
Uluslararası Af Örgütü’ne konuşan Kanatlı serbest bırakılması için harekete geçen herkese teşekkür etti ve “bu eylem Kuzey Kıbrıs’taki yetkililere izlendiklerini ve benzer suçlamalara maruz kalanların yalnız olmadıklarını göstermek açısından önemli” diye konuştu.
Murat Kanatlı’nın vicdani reddini açıklaması nedeniyle tutuklanmasının bir insan hakkı ihlali olduğunu hatırlatıyor ve yetkililerden,
Murat Kanatlı hakkındaki Seferberlik Yasası (Yasa No. 17/1980) dâhilindeki diğer iki suçlamanın düşürülmesini,
Zorunlu askerliğe yönelik vicdani reddi tanıyan yasaların hayata geçirilmesini talep ediyoruz.
İmza metnin online adresi şöyle:
18 Mart tarihinde vicdani retçi Haluk Selam Tufanlı’nın ve Murat Kanatlı’nın davalarında Askeri Mahkeme kısa bir duruşma yapmış ve İstinaf’ın kararının beklenmesine, bu çerçevede de tüm davaların 1 Temmuz, Salı gününe ertelenmesine karar vermişti…
As I’m sure you know; conscientious objection is a basic human right.
There are only a few countries in the Council of Europe who do not accept this, and Turkey is one of them. The Republic of Cyprus pretends to accept it, but makes it impossible to exercise it in practice.
So if I should say it briefly, the Republic of Cyprus recognises the right to conscientious objection for conscripts, but an application has to be made to the Ministry of Defence, and not to a civilian authority. The right is also not available to serving conscripts or professional soldiers and the length of the alternative service is punitive. In the northern part of Cyprus, which is under the control of the Republic Turkey, the right to conscientious objection is not recognised at all.
Although the northern part of Cyprus has a conscription law of its own as if it were an independent state, the reality is that it is Turkey’s law on military service and the logic of this law is applied, and therefore the right to conscientious objection is not recognized. Also the so-called Turkish army’s chief commander in northern part of Cyprus is appointed by Ankara, by the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey.
In spite of the fact that huge amounts of money is spent and intensive militarist propaganda is made in order to emphasize the “sacred” nature of doing military service in all of Cyprus, Cypriot youth do everything they can to avoid military service.
In the south, the Republic of Cyprus, military service is compulsory right after high school, while in the north there is the condition/alternative of going on to higher education. Greek Cypriot youth use medical reports to avoid compulsory military service, while Turkish Cypriot youth prolong their period of education as much as they can. Currently, nobody knows the statistics about higher education among Turkish Cypriot youth. These youngsters apply for higher education courses without even thinking about what use that will be or they go abroad.
In reality, Cypriot youth are going AWOL [absent without leave, escaping from military service], but they are choosing to do this in an indirect way rather than a direct challenge.
The use of the right to conscientious objection is an important tool in the anti-militarist struggle. Conscientious objection is not simply going AWOL, but a challenge. It is different from what people who indirectly refuse to go into the army do, because it is an act of direct opposition to the regime on the basis of beliefs. The conscientious objector declares on the basis that everyone is equal, that he is willing to undertake alternative public service which is civilian, just and acceptable. In other words, his attitude is not to escape, but to volunteer to public service.
In Cyprus, however, it is difficult even to discuss this idea.
The Initiative for Conscientious Objection has not gained mass support in Cyprus. The conscientious objection argument has been accepted in Republic of Cyprus only formally as a result of external pressure, and we know from similar examples that it is difficult even to discuss anti-militarism in conditions of ceasefire.
There is nothing surprising in this. The main reason is that the institutions in Cyprus perceive military service as a means of education to create militants for the regime. Military service is an important tool in the creation of individuals who obey commands and accept the superior-inferior relationship. Military service is also a school for the reproduction and unquestioning acceptance of chauvinism and enmity. That is why the rulers in Cyprus see military service not only as a tool of war, but also a school, a means of education. That is why compulsory military service is sacred for them.
Situation of Conscientious Objection in the northern part of Cyprus
The Initiative for Conscientious Objection set up in the northern part of Cyprus fulfils an important function and calls for objection and discussion. Two big meetings in December 2007 and January 2008 show that a group of people, maybe not very large but certainly very determined, has set out on this path.
The most important figure about conscientious objection in all of Cyprus, the person who refused to go into the army for non-religious reasons was Salih Askeroğlu. On 24 September 1993 Askeroğlu refused to do military service on the basis that his wife was Greek Cypriot and he said “If I join the armed forces who will be my enemies? My wife? My wife’s relatives?”
Fifteen years later, the discussion is re-opened by the Initiative for Conscientious Objection …
Anti-militarism on the ceasefire line is difficult, but not impossible. Indeed every anti-militarist struggle is a conscientious challenge against weapons and violence.
It is now time to spread this challenge, and to do so in the whole of Cyprus…
Since 2009 I have started to reject to join for reservist call ups…
Since 2009 I have refused each year, on grounds of conscience, to participate in the annual compulsory military exercises in the northern part of Cyprus.
On 14th June 2011 I was summoned to appear in the Military Court on charges relating to my refusal in 2009. After numerous postponements, on 8 December 2011 the Military Court accepted our demand to refer our case to the Constitutional Court, as it refers to freedom of conscience which is a human right guaranteed by the constitution.
The Constitutional Court in its Judgment on 10 October 2013 expressed that opposition to military service, where it is motivated by a serious and insurmountable conflict between the obligation to serve in the army and a person’s conscience or his deeply and genuinely held religious or other beliefs required the protection of the human right to freedom of thought which exists in Article 23 of the Constitution and is safeguarded in Article 9 of European Convention of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, the Constitutional Court went on to state that compulsory military exercises do not constitute a conflict with the Constitution. The Court added that the duty is upon the legislator to provide in laws and regulations for alternative service to military service and when doing so to review the article of the Constitution that relates the right and duty to homeland to armed service only. After the decision of the Constitutional Court my trial continued at the Military Court which delivered its judgment on 25th February 2014, stating that the right to conscientious objection is not regulated in domestic laws. The Military Court handed down a penalty of 500 Turkish lira or 10 days imprisonment if I failed to pay the penalty. Upon my refusal to pay the penalty they put me in prison for 10 days. This decision is solely regarding the refusal to participate in the year 2009. The cases relating to objection to serve in 2010 and 2011 are still pending and the date for the court is 1st July 2014.
Immediately after the decision of the Military Court an appeal against the decision has been filed (this relates to the 2009 case). The Appeal Court met and the case has been postponed until 24th June 2014.
During this period, the administration parliament of the Turkish Cypriot community put forward the issue of the amendment to the conscription law to the Legal and Political Affairs Committee… In the beginning, only the decrease in the duration of the compulsory service and some other issues were in their agenda but after my imprisonment, they also put the right to conscientious objection on their agenda. However, the article in the “Constitution” is the important obstacle…
Last week another ad hoc Committee announced draft amendments of the “Constitution”… In this draft amendment the right to conscientious objection is also addressed. Currently Article 74 states:
“National service in the armed forces shall be the right and sacred duty of every citizen. Conditions relating to national service shall be regulated by law”
And the draft amendment states that:
“National service a duty to the country shall be the right and sacred duty of every citizen. The service in the Armed Forces or in the public sector will be fulfilled or deemed to have been fulfilled as regulated by the relevant law.
If the parliament approves the draft amendments for the “Constitution” then the constitutional amendment will be put to a referendum in the northern part of the island on 29th June 2014…
Haluk Selam Tufanli declared his conscientious objection on 8th December 2011 and his case for his conscientious objection to participate in reservist call ups started at the Military Court on 24 December 2013 and has been postponed until the decision of my appeal.
Up to now there are 11 persons who have declared their conscientious objection in the northern part of Cyprus and more declarations are expected to be made on 15th May, International Day for Conscientious Objection. The 11 persons (with the date of their declaration) so far are:
Salih Askeroğlu (24 September 1993), Murat Kanatlı (15 May 2009), Haluk Selam Tufanlı (8 December 2011), Faika Deniz Paşa (8 December 2011), Cemre İpçiler (8 December 2011), Nevzat Hami (8 December 2011), Ceren Goynuklu (8 December 2011), Halil Karapaşaoğlu (24 October 2013), Ahmet Karakaşlı (24 December 2013), Tegiye Birey (24 December 2013), Süleyman Tarık Sakallı (15 April 2014).
Situation of Conscientious Objection in the Republic of Cyprus
The issue in the Republic of Cyprus continuous to develop, sometimes in a negative way, sometimes in a positive way…
The Republic of Cyprus is one of only 6 of the 27 EU member states (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Greece) that are conscripting men into obligatory military service. The duration of the obligatory military service is 24 months whereas the duration of the alternative social service for conscientious objectors is punitive – 9 months longer (37.5% longer). Also the salary that the conscripts receive over their 24 months military service is divided over the 33 month alternative social service making it a monthly salary of around 100 euro!!!
The right to conscientious objection in the Republic of Cyprus was recognized only in 2007 but it does not meet international standards. Both the old and the new law of 2011 leave open the possibility for the conscientious objector to serve alternative military service (unarmed) in military units instead of only alternative social service. The right for alternative social service is removed for the conscientious objector with an exemption on medical grounds, as well as for all those exempt from military service on medical grounds.
Application to gain CO status, with the required supporting documents, is made to the military services and a Special Committee examines this application (after examination of the Physical Condition of the applicant by another Committee). This Special Committee comprises of two professors of higher education with a specialization in philosophy, social or political sciences or psychology, one law officer of the Law Office of the Republic and two higher officers of the Military Force, one of the Conscription Office and one of the Health Department of the Army. The decision of the Special Committee is passed on to the Minister of Defence who has the final say and if his decision is opposite to that of the Special Committee, it has to be justified in writing. The Special Committee may call the applicant for an oral interview, but can also decide without interview.
Alternative social service is performed in posts of the public services sector and consists of serving in services of public utilities or undertaking public duties within the field social care and environmental protection.
Several groups and individuals are getting more interested in issues of Conscientious Objection and are in contact with us. There was an effort to make a collective declaration of conscientious objection amongst some reservists but this has not materialised yet.
One individual has made an application to the military services stating his conscientious objection and requesting not to participate in military reservist call ups but instead to do alternative social service. His case was examined, he was called for an interview (nearly a year ago) but he is still awaiting the answer of the military services… In the meantime they did not send him any further call up papers for reservist service.