TUESDAY 12 JULY, 12-2PM
43 Belgrave Square, London SW1 (nearest tube Hyde Park Corner)
Mehmet Tarhan, a gay man and anarchist activist, declared his conscientious objection to military service on 27 October 2001. He has continued publicly to oppose killing, including by the US and UK in wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.
He is charged under Article 88, Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK), "Insubordination in front of the unit" and since 8 April has been detained in the military prison of Sivas. He faces up to five years imprisonment. Mr Tarhan has courageously refused a 'disability' discharge which he could claim as a gay man, saying this “is an expression of the rottenness of the militarist system itself.”
Encouraged by prison staff, other prisoners have repeatedly beaten, humiliated and threatened Mr Tarhan with death, even in front of his lawyer. Mr Tarhan went on a successful 28-day hunger strike which won basic human rights: protection from other prisoners, and treatment by independent doctors. When he appeared in court on 9 June, he could not walk properly and his body was covered in bruises.
The judge released Mr Tarhan because he had "already spent two months in prison, which is about the time he would have to serve if finally sentenced". However, he was again taken into custody and returned to Sivas military prison. It is outrageous that he is to be put on trial again, on 12 July.
Behind the persecution of brother Tarhan are huge numbers of draft evaders in Turkey – 350,000 – many refusing to serve in Turkey’s war against its own Kurdish people. They are part of a growing international movement of women and men who refuse to be killers, torturers and rapists for the global military machine.
The persecution of Mehmet Tarhan is typical of Turkish repression (to which the EU has turned a blind eye). It has violated not only his human right to conscientious objection, but also international law. Protests in Mr Tarhan’s support have come from Argentina, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland and USA as well as the UK. A demonstration will take place in Venice, Italy, at the same time as in London.
We demand that all charges against Mehmet Tarhan be dropped. Release him now!
Picket called by: Payday & Wages Due Lesbians
Co-sponsor: Outrage! Please tell us if your organisation would like to co-sponsor this ongoing protest.
We will at the same time leaflet the TURKISH CULTURE & TOURISM OFFICE, 170-173 Piccadilly, London W1. The Turkish Consulate in Venice, Italy will also be leafletted.
Wages Due Lesbians
Tel 020 7482 2496 Email wdl(at)allwomencount.net Web www.globalwomenstrike.net
Payday, a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike
Tel 020 7209 4751 Email payday(at)paydaynet.org Web www.refusingtokill.net
OutRage! News Service