Turkish military court sentences conscientious objector to 15 months despite ECHR ruling
SİVASA military court in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas has sentenced Mehmet Tarhan, an outspoken conscientious objector and politician, to 15 months in jail, as well as a fine of 9,000 Turkish Liras, for “failing to obey orders.”
The verdict disregards a previous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), therefore paving the way for Tarhan to apply to the ECHR again.
Tarhan declared that he was a conscientious objector in 2001 and was detained in April 2005 in the Aegean province of Izmir, after which he was sent to the army branch in the northern province of Tokat.
The same year, he was convicted to four years in jail for disobedience, after starting a hunger strike after being forced to cut his hair and beard and wear a uniform, which was ultimately carried out forcibly by seven soldiers.
Tarhan then filed a legal complaint to the ECHR, claiming that he was forced to cut his hair and beaten by other soldiers. The higher military court later annulled the ruling.
However, the latest court ruling came in a separate case.
Tarhan’s lawyer, Suna Coşkun, said on Feb. 11 that the ruling disregarded a ECHR verdict in 2012 that fined Turkey to 10,000 euros for violating the European Convention on Human Rights, citing the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The Constitutional Court has also returned their applications, Coşkun said.
“The military court’s ruling is both against the constitution and rulings issued by the ECHR. We will appeal it,” Tarhan told KaosGL, an Ankara-based LGBTI association.
Tarhan is a party assembly member of the Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP).