Addressing Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, the signatories express their "deepest concern on the case of Mehmet Tarhan, who is being denied his right to conscientious objection, as set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
Objector Mehmet Tarhan convicted for "disobedience"
Mehmet Tarhan declared his conscientious objection on 27 October 2001 and has been continuing with his anti-war activities ever since - publicly and outspokenly, without going into hiding. Charged with "disobedience in front of the unit" in August 2005, Tarhan was then sentenced to four years in prison on the basis of Article 88 of the Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK). This is the heaviest sentence a conscientious objector has ever been subjected to in Turkey.
Heaviest sentence: A step backwards
"It is a step backwards with regards to the human rights situation in Turkey and should therefore be mentioned in the upcoming reports by the EU Commission on Turkey," say the MEPs.
Mehmet Tarhan was arrested on 8 April 2005 and has been imprisoned in the Military Prison of Sivas, where he has faced death threats, severe abuse, and blackmail attempts from other prisoners who have reportedly been encouraged and supported by prison guards.
Prison authorities have not reacted to Tarhan´s complaints thus far. It seems that only a formal complaint procedure by his lawyer will result in his complaints even being recorded.
Mistreatment in prison
"Mehmet Tarhan remains the target of threats and assaults. He was forcibly transferred to a military hospital where he was brutally undressed and forced to wear a uniform against his will. Due to the repeated and grave mistreatment, Mehmet Tarhan now suffers from several health problems" the signatories say.
They also call for "the immediate release of Mehmet Tarhan, and for his exemption from military service. For the time that he remains in prison, we call on you to ensure that he will not be mistreated."
"Mehmet Tarhan´s arrest, the abuse he has been subjected to in military prison and the charges brought against him are violations of the human right to conscientious objection, the human right on freedom of movement and the human right on freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," say the MEPs.
They call Turkey "to adhere to the obligations deriving from Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Turkey is a signatory state. Conscientious objection is a human right, and we call on Turkey to ensure the constitutional recognition of this right."
The European Parliament members finally urge Turkey's supreme authorities to exert their influence and "to take appropriate action in order to ensure the immediate release from prison of Mehmet Tarhan as well as of all other conscientious objectors who have been imprisoned in Turkey, and towards the recognition of the right to conscientious objection " (EK/YE)
PFLÜGER, Tobias, MEP
LUCAS Caroline, MEP
FIGUEIREDO, Ilda, MEP
RÜHLE, Heide, MEP
PAPADIMOULIS Dimitris, MEP
BRIE, André, MEP
TARABELLA, Marc, MEP
UCA, Feleknas, MEP
SVENSSON, Eva-Britt, MEP
ROMEVA Raúl, MEP
LYOTARD, Kartika, MEP
WAGENKNECHT, Sahra, MEP
IN'T VELD Sophie, MEP
KAUFMANN Sylvia-Yvonne, MEP
MATSAKIS Marios, MEP
MASTALKA Jiri, MEP
HASSI Satu, MEP
LAMBERT, JEAN, MEP