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Peace Activist Assaulted In Prison

Turkish anti-militarist tortured and jailed (31/11/05)
Gay, anarchist, and total objector Mehmet Tarhan was taken into custody
by the police force in Izmir for refusing his military service. He was then
sent to prison.

Mehmet Tarhan was brutally assaulted by guards at Sivas military prison
on Friday 30 September when he refused to have his hair cut. Mr Ali Düler,
a prisoner who came to his aid, was also assaulted. Mr Tarhan said:

"Today, at 3pm non-commissioned officer Hilmi Savluk [prison warden],
accompanied by three or four guards, told me that my hair was to be
cut. Then seven or eight people using force and torture cut my hair and
beard but they could not cut my moustache. Also a friend [Mr Ali Düler] from the
ward faced a harsh intervention from the guards. After the "hair cut"
torture, there is pain in my head, in both my hands, in my left arm because they
stood on it, pain in my left foot, injuries and bruises on my arm and

I cannot turn my neck around because of pain in my face and neck ". Mr
Tarhan has been on hunger strike since then - a month ago. Please
urgently tell the Turkish authorities you support his protest. (See model letter

Background: In 2001, Mr Tarhan, declared his total conscientious
objection to all wars and to any alternative to military service. He refused to
be discharged from the military on the basis of his homosexuality, which
the Turkish authorities view as an illness, saying this is "an expression
of the rottenness of the militarist system itself." In order to certify men as
gay the "rotten" military authority requires not only a manual examination
by doctors but also a photo or a video of applicants being sexually
penetrated. The person applying for exemption as a gay man has to be the one
penetrated - the one penetrating is not classified as gay by the military!

Since 8 April 2005 he has been detained at Sivas military prison. On 10
August he was sentenced to four years imprisonment on two charges of
"insubordination before the unit" (article 88 of the Military Criminal
Code). Even after he has served his sentence he will face mock release,
and another cycle of detention, torture and trial. He is appealing his

This is not the first time Mr Tarhan has suffered prison violence: in
April 2005, other prisoners who were encouraged by prison staff beat him.
After a 28-day hunger strike in protest against that and other abuse, he won
many of his demands, including the right to have a cell of his own to ensure
his protection. However, he has since been regularly put in isolation by
the prison authorities, because he refuses to act as a soldier and obey

Sivas Military Prison fax : (+90) 346- 225 39 15·
General Staff fax: (+90) 312 - 425 08 13 email:  gnkur@tsk.mil.tr
of Turkey Republic fax: (+90) 312 427 13 30 email:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fax: +90 312 417 0476 email:
Minister of the Interior Abdulkadir Aksu fax: + 90 312 418 1795 email:
Minister for Justice Cemil Çiçek fax: +90 312 419 3370 email:

We are outraged to learn that once again, Mr Mehmet Tarhan, total
conscientious objector, was assaulted by prison guards in Sivas
military prison on Friday 30 September.

Despite significant injuries, Mr Tarhan was seen only by military
doctors who "examined" him for 10 minutes and decided there was nothing wrong
with him.

He is now on hunger strike, demanding to be seen by civilian doctors
and that the guards who assaulted him be prosecuted. We understand that Mr
Tarhan's solicitor has begun legal proceedings against these guards. Mr
Tarhan's friend, Mr Ali Düler, who came to his defence, was also beaten
and injured.

We demand that you urgently allow civilian doctors to visit Mr Tarhan,
and that the guards who committed these illegal acts of violence against
him and Mr Düler be prosecuted. We hold the military and civilian authorities
responsible for the safety and welfare of both Mehmet Tarhan and Ali

Mr Tarhan is exercising his right to conscientious objection under
Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
to which Turkey is a party. The Committee of Ministers to Member States of
the Council of Europe Regarding Conscientious Objection to Compulsory
Military Service states 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".

Mr Tarhan is a prisoner of conscience. He has committed no crime and
should be released immediately.

Olli Rehn, Commissioner for enlargement policy of the European Union·

Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe·

Trevor Stevens, Executive Secretary, Committee for the Prevention of
Torture, Council of Europe, ·

Michael Cashman MEP, President of the European Parliament's Intergroup
Gay and Lesbian Rights,