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Netzwerk gegen Straflosigkeit / Red contra la impunidad / Network against impunity

PUBLIC AI Index: EUR44/009/2008

11 June 2008

Fear for safety / ill-treatment / legal concern
Turkey, Mehmet Bal (m), aged 33, conscientious objector

Conscientious objector Mehmet Bal was arrested on 8 June in Istanbul for
evading military service. He was held in military custody in Besiktas,
before being transferred to Hasdal Military Prison in Istanbul on 9
June, where he is currently held. In both places of detention he says he
was ill-treated. Mehmet Bal is currently at risk of further
ill-treatment at the hands of the military.

Whilst in custody in Besiktas, Mehmet Bal was allegedly subjected to
physical abuse from duty officers that included being punched in the
head, face and chest. Mehmet Bal was also denied water and access to a
toilet for several hours. On 9 June Mehmet Bal was moved to Hasdal
Military Prison where he is being detained before being sent back to his
army unit in Adana in the south of Turkey, to appear before a military

Mehmet Bal's lawyers told Amnesty International that during his first
day at Hasdal Military Prison a senior military officer took Mehmet Bal
into a prison ward and ordered other prisoners to "do what is necessary
to remind him of prison rules". Five or six prisoners kicked Mehmet Bal
and beat his face and body with a plank of wood. After the attack,
Mehmet Bal was taken to Gümüssuyu Military Hospital for treatment. He
was then sent back to Hasdal Military Prison on 10 June, reportedly
without having fully recovered from his injuries.

Fifteen-month military service is compulsory for men aged between 19-40,
in Turkey. The right to conscientious objection is not legally
recognized, and there is no alternative civilian service for
conscientious objectors. Whilst carrying out his military service,
Mehmet Bal became a conscientious objector in October 2002 when, after
nine months of service, he declared publicly that: "I refuse to carry
out any action against my conscience and will, forced on me by persons
or institutions may they be civilian or military, local or universal."

Following this public declaration, Mehmet Bal left his post and was
arrested in October 2002, and again in January 2003. In January 2003
Mehmet Bal was released on a three-month medical leave of absence, at
the end of which he was ordered to report to his unit in Adana.
Insisting on his status as a conscientious objector Mehmet Bal refused
to report to the unit and has been living in Istanbul until his arrest
on 8 June 2008. Amnesty International will adopt Mehmet Bal as a
prisoner of conscience, if he is convicted and imprisoned for his
conscientious objection to military service.


International human rights standards recognize the right to
conscientious objection. In a recommendation to the Council of Europe,
the Committee of Ministers stated that "Anyone liable to conscription
for military service who, for compelling reasons of conscience, refuses
to be involved in the use of arms, shall have the right to be released
from the obligation to perform such service... Such persons may be
liable to perform alternative service." In recent years there have been
a small number of conscientious objectors who have publicly stated their
refusal to carry out military service in Turkey. They usually face
criminal prosecution, leading to prison sentences of up to three years.
On release, they often receive new call-up papers, and the process is

    RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
    possible, in <Turkish> or your own language:

- urging the Turkish authorities to ensure that Mehmet Bal is not
subjected to torture or other ill-treatment;

- calling for assurances that he will be protected from attacks or
intimidation by other prisoners;

- calling on the Turkish authorities to ensure that Mehmet Bal has
access to an independent medical examination and receives appropriate
medical treatment;

- calling for a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into
claims that he was ill-treated by military personnel;

- calling for a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into
claims that he was ill-treated by imprisoned soldiers on the orders of a
senior military officer at Hasdal Military Prison;

- calling for Mehmet Bal's immediate and unconditional release;

- urging the authorities to stop immediately the prosecutions of
conscientious objectors and to introduce an alternative civilian service
for conscientious objectors, in line with European and international
standards and recommendations.


*_Ministry of Interior_*

Besir Atalay, Minister of Interior
Icisleri Bakanligi, 06644 Ankara, Turkey
Email: besir.atalay@icisleri.gov.tr
Fax: +90 312 418 7696
Salutation: Dear Minister

*_Ministry of National Defence_*

Vecdi Gönül, Minister of National Defence
Milli Savunma Bakanligi, 06100 Ankara, Turkey
Tel: +90 312 425 4596
Fax: +90 312 418 4737
Email: info@msb.gov.tr <mailto:info@msb.gov.tr>
Salutation: Dear Minister

*_Hasdal Military Prison _*

Hasdal Askeri Cezaevi Komutani, Military Prison Commander
Hasdal Sakarya Kislasi
Kemerburgaz Yolu, 52. Tumen Karsisi, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 321 1055
Fax: +90 212 321 1056

Salutation: Dear Commander


*_Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights_*
Mehmet Zafer Üskül, Commission Chairperson
TBMM Insan Haklarini Inceleme Komisyonu
Bakanliklar, 06543 Ankara, Turkey
Tel: +90 312 420 5433
Fax: +90 312 420 53 94
Email: inshkkom@tbmm.gov.tr <mailto:inshkkom@tbmm.gov.tr>

Salutation: Dear Mr. Üskül

and to diplomatic representatives of Turkey accredited to your country.

*PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.* Check with the International
Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 23 July 2008.

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