‘Charter should include conscientious objection’

‘Charter should include conscientious objection’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Charter should include conscientious objection’

This file photo shows a group of privates during a military ceremony. Turkey is the only Council of Europe member that doesn’t recognize conscientious objection, hence the compulsory military service system should be changed in the new charter, activists say. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Conscientious Objectors Platform made a presentation at Parliament’s constitution-making commission yesterday to demand the right for males to opt out of compulsory military service.

Men should be able to object to military service on the grounds of “political, philosophical and conscientious reasons,” the platform told the Constitution Conciliation Commission, according to information obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News.

Alternative forms of military service could be introduced, and an individual could object to using a gun or oppose all military service activities, said Coşkun Üsterci, who headed the platform at the meeting in Parliament.

Council of Europe ruling

The platform highlighted a Council of Europe decision that read “people who have strong opinions against guns due to religious, ethical, moral, or philosophical reasons should have the right to be exempt from this service.”

The report also pointed to separate decisions by the United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that ensure conscientious objection, as well as an ECHR ruling regarding Osman Murat Ülke, who was arrested and put on trial for burning his military service papers. The court ordered Turkey to pay monetary compensation to Ülke.

Out of the 47 members of the Council of Europe, Turkey is the only country that does not recognize conscientious objection.

Commission member from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet İyimaya, however, said he is against conscientious objection, and that a military is necessary to protect the country.
Also meeting with the commission yesterday was the Federation of the Families of Fallen Soldiers.
“Our religion stipulates what a martyr is. Civilians cannot be martyrs,” said federation head Hamit Köse, criticizing the arguments over calling Turkish journalist of Armenian origin Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in 2007, a martyr.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) commission member Altan Tan then asked Köse if it was right for a secular system to refer to religious terms, to which Köse replied, “There isn’t anything preventing a secular state from citing religious terms.”

The World Ahlul Bayt Foundation meanwhile told the commission in a separate meeting that the government needs to stand at an equal distance from all religions and suggested that the Directorate of Religious Affairs be transformed into an independent institution that represents all faiths.

The state opportunities proceed with a system based on a single sec and non-Muslim people, other faith groups and cultural differences are not allowed to express themselves, represantatives of the foundation said at the meeting.