Turkish military officers go to European court for right to resign
ISTANBUL - RadikalA group of officers from the Turkish Armed Forces have come together to apply to the European Court of Human Rights to fight for the right to resign from military service.
Officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) do not have the right to resign from the army before they complete 15 years of mandatory service in Turkey.
Nearly 30 officers and NCOs, including deserters, have gathered to meet lawyer Oğuz Evren Kılıç for the first time to discuss their application to the European court to gain the right to resign from military service, Pınar Öğünç of daily Radikal reported today.
Kılıç reportedly volunteered to help the officers and is working pro bono. He said he believed the case would be an important step for the improvement of the philosophy that the "state exists for the people" rather than vice versa.
The European court application would be based on the army's violation of the Turkish Constitution's principal of equality and its violation of the ban on forced labor, Kılıç said. Another basis for the case would be the army's practice of putting deserters on trial at military courts upon capture, even though they were expelled from the army and attained civilian status after desertion.
All of the officers in the meeting, who were in their 20s and 30s, said they enrolled in military schools at the young age of 12 or 13.
Some were reported as saying they wanted to become soldiers after seeing a "Rambo-like" movie as a child and some followed in the steps of an older relative who was an officer. There were those who fell for the myth of "girls love men in uniform," while others dreamed of heroism, according to the report.
A majority of the officers who wanted a way out of military service, however, were not given a choice as children, the report added, as they were sent away to military school by their parents.
The only way for an officer or an NCO to resign from the army was to pay for each and every expense – from bullets to bootstraps – the state had assumed for them, but only a minority of officers could afford to pay to resign from military service as the rest had to endure 15 years of mandatory service, the report said.
Another option was to desert from the army and live as fugitives – which leaves men unable to conduct any official business. A number of deserters worked for minimum wage without insurance in jobs below their qualifications as they could not be legally employed, the report said.