"Conscientious Objection Platform" will work for legislation recognizing the right to object to military service. Platform intends to campaign for rights of penalized conscientious objectors and journalists covering their plight".
A total of 15 democratic mass organizations and political parties have united in Turkey to launch the country's first and only Conscientious Objection Platform that is to defend the right of those who reject compulsory military service.
Objecting to military service in Turkey is an offence and, as recent experiences have shown, one in which civilians who have not yet been recruited can face charges and sentences at military tribunals.
The newly-formed platform aims not only to work for legislative changes that will recognize the right to object to military service but also to create a communication network between and for conscientious objectors. The Platform will work for the right of conscientious objection to be guaranteed not only under law but also under the Turkish constitution.
Another function of the platform is to campaign for public awareness of the conscientious objection "disobedience" and organize for various events and activities in this field.
The platform also seeks to support the struggle of those objectors and journalists covering their plight who have been persecuted, prosecuted and sentenced.
Platform: Conscientious objectors should be recognized
The components of the Conscientious Objection Platform came together on Saturday, October 21, at the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) where platform spokesman and conscientious objector Halil Savda read out the group's declaration.
Savda explained that the primary goal of conscientious objectors was to object to compulsory military service and that the platform would support their cause and aid to overcome their problems.
Other targets of the platform were listed, in summary, as:
* The lifting of legislation that restricts anti-militarism and defines it as a punishable offence of "discouraging the people from military service". Inclusive of the abolishment of laws under which conscientious objectors can be prosecuted for "insistence of disobeying orders" and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, military criminal law articles 87 and 88.
* To be in solidarity with journalists and writers who have been prosecuted for articled on conscientious objection or militarism.
* To challenge military judiciary which the soldiers themselves do not deserve and to work towards a unified single judiciary with military justice being abolished.
* To support and attempt to unify under its own framework the total objectionists who refuse civilian service during their military recruitment term.
* To be in solidarity with those who have refused to surrender for compulsory military service and consequently been expelled from Turkish citizenship. To work towards reinstating their rights.
One of the primary targets of the platform, however, is to unify all efforts and activities in the fields of conscientious objection which, previously, were more spontaneous and disorganized.
Components of the Conscientious Objection Platform are:
Human Rights Organisation (IHD), Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), Lambdaistanbul Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexuals (LGBTT) Solidarity Association, AMARGI Womens' Academy, Democratic Society Party (DTP), Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), Peace Mothers Initiative, Education and Science Workers Union (Egitim-Sen) No. 3 and No. 8 branches, Democratic Free Womens Movement (DOKH), 14 May Platform, Kardelen Culture Center, Gokkusagi Women Association, Democratic Alawite Initiative, 78's Initiative and Istanbul Culture and Mutual Assistance Association of those from Tunceli. (EZO/KO/II/YE)