The Mehmet Tarhan Solidarity Initiative held a press meeting at the Istanbul office of the Human Rights Foundation with the goal of extending support for conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, who has begun a hunger strike to protest the violence and injustice he is suffering at the hands of military authorities. Tarhan, who is a gay and pacifist activist and a "total" conscientious objector, has been repeatedly imprisoned for his refusal to do mandatory military service. On 10 August 2005 he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for insubordination.
Gürşat Özdamar read a press statement from the Initiative stating that the procedures and penalties applied to Tarhan constitued a crimes against humanity. Reiterating demands that Tarhan be given independent examination and that he be treated under equal conditions as other prisoners, she called for public opinion to pay attention to the issue. "We call emphasize that we will not abandon our friend who has suffered torture. We call on everyone to support the campaign for his demands to be met and above all, for his tormentors to be punished," she said.
Tarhan said that he was injured in Sivas Military Prison on 30 September when his hair and beard were forcibly shaved off. He was left with bruises on his face, throat, hands, arms and legs, and has once again begun a hunger strike. Tarhan's demands in the hunger strike are that a legal investigation into his treatment be started and those responsible for his abuse be punished, that he be exam?ned by independent physicians to document the abuse, and that his needs for drinking water, juice, salt, sugar, and vitamin B-1 be met.
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