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Free the total objector Mehmet Tarhan

category greece / turkey / cyprus | repression / prisoners | feature author Thursday April 14, 2005 00:28author by Andrew - Anarkismo Report this post to the editors

Turkish gay, anarchist, and total military objector Mehmet Tarhan taken into custody

Compilation of reports from Turkey of the arrest of the military objector Mehmet Tarhan and the campaign in support of him. Includes appeal for international solidarity protests. Please add updates as comments on this feature.

Compilation of reports from Turkey of the arrest of the military objector Mehmet Tarhan and the campaign in support of him. Includes appeal for international solidarity protests.

Gay, anarchist, and total objector Mehmet Tarhan has been taken into custody by the police force in Izmir, while he was staying in a hotel and has been sent to military bureau. Now Mehmet Tarhan is insisting on continuing his civil disobedience action and if necessary, he will start a hunger strike. At Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir groups have been formed to support Mehmet Tarhan and are working to organise a big campaign. One of the discussion points nowadays is to make total objection announcements totally. The results of our discussions and the content of campaigns will be announced on anarchist and anti-militarist websites.

Military and civic fascist organisations have started to attack Kurds, trying to lynch leftist groups at the streets, even the bureaus of DEHAP (a legal political party for the rights of Kurds) and of leftist groups are shown as places to be attacked. All these reactionary acts are 'legitimised' by news that two children aged 12 have tried to burn the Turkish flag at Mersin.

Anarchists and antimilitarists are also affected by this racist wave. Mehmet Tarhan who is taken into custody will be sent to a military unit in a day (we have just learned that he is at his way), and will be forced to serve as a soldier.

As far as we are informed about the discussions held in the bureau, the Turkish military force is determined to attack all total and conscientious objectors living at Turkey, and make us obey their rules. So, we as antimilitarist people are expecting to confront a very difficult period ahead. It is very likely we will experience mass trials soon.

For this reason we are calling all the anarchist, antiauthoritarian and antimilitarist groups living in other countries to arrange actions and campaigns to oppose the Turkish state. If we can't resist against this wave, the anarcisht and antimilitarist movement of this country will loose its effectiveness.

In order to prevent this danger, all the antimilitarist and antiauthoritarian groups have gathered together as the first step of a long campaign. We expect that our comrades will support and act with us.

We know that they can't stop us by imprisoning, killing or ignoring us.

Revolution is anywhere, and nothing will suppress it!



Mehmet Tarhan was taken to Tokat via Sivas on 9 April 2005, handcuffed with gendarmes [police] next to him. Approximately 20 antimilitarists and anarchists; did not leave him to go alone. We went to the main coach station and found Mehmet by looking one by one into each and every bus, and contrary to the flag-wavering soldier farewells, we saw Mehmet off with applause and slogans like "the best objector is our objector!"(in contrast to the popular "the best soldier is our soldier"), "peace is proud of you" (instead of "this nation is proud of you") .

Before the action, we had the chance to chat a little with Mehmet, but than the atmosphere intensified as he was put into the bus and although it wasn't yet the departure time the bus doors were closed and the police were called. Photos from the moments of our confrontation are below. It was an emotional time for us and therefore we unfortunately did not take photos during the action.

PHOTO ALBUM [AND WEBSITE] FOR ARRESTED TOTAL OBJECTOR MEHMET TARHAN We have prepared an album of total objector Mehmet Tarhan for using in places like posters, zines, periodicals, papers or just to for you to have a look. You can download high resolution pictures to use in printed materials..

Mehmet Tarhan page

Background information

For contact:

--- This text is based on one sent to all anarchist, anti otoriter and antimilitarist groups but where the English has been tidied up for the site.

On 19th March anti-war march. Mehmet is carrying a placard, which says "Mehmet Barisi seviyor - Mehmet loves peace". Baris means peace, but is also a widespread male name. The gay/lesbian movement in Turkey uses this slogan quite often.
On 19th March anti-war march. Mehmet is carrying a placard, which says "Mehmet Barisi seviyor - Mehmet loves peace". Baris means peace, but is also a widespread male name. The gay/lesbian movement in Turkey uses this slogan quite often.

International symbol of anti-war resistors
International symbol of anti-war resistors

author by nestor - Anarkismopublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 18:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This article in Italian

Related Link:
author by Joe - Anarkismopublication date Fri Apr 15, 2005 22:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mehmet Tahran, a gay and a conscientious/total objector in Turkey, was taken into custody by police on April 8, 2005, in Izmir where he went to work in a book fair. He was handed over to the recruiting office and then to a gendarmarie outpost. Because he continues his disobedience, he is now being kept in a cell in a military prison. Mehmet Tahran is a gay and an anarchist, who declared his conscientious objection on October 27, 2001 in the Ankara Human Rights Association. ?War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.?

Since then, without hiding himself or his address, he has continued his civil disobedience against war and militarism. We are extremely concerned that Mehmet Tahran, who has previously declared that he would never serve the war-machine, including the compulsory military service, was taken into custody and has since been kept in a cell during such a tense period when racist and ultra-nationalist discourses are on the rise in Turkey.

Military Service in Turkey

There is compulsory military service in Turkey. There is no right for conscientious objection. Because the objectors refuse to perform compulsory military service, their civil resistance is responded to with arrest and imprisonment. The Turkish Armed Forces see homosexuality as a disorder, removing gay officers from their officers and preparing reports on gay soldiers. Homosexuals who are labeled by a report entitled ?Psycho-Sexual Disorder: Homosexuality? are subject to spiritual and material discrimination and their rights in social and professional life are violated. Among all NATO countries, only Turkey?s army sees homosexuality as a disorder. In Turkey, anarchists and Jehovah?s Witnesses refuse to be recruited.

Militarist Culture in Turkey

There has always been sexism and homophobia in Turkey, a country with an all-pervading culture of masculinity and soldiery. Militarist organizations have always looked down on homosexuals, especially when it?s about military service, labeled them with filing systems, making their life unbearable. Military organization is defined as a state of grace, which a homosexual can never reach.

The fact that military institutions, as the fortresses of masculinity and militarism, exclude women and homosexual men, does not mean they cannot fight, or manage to be soldiers. The exclusion of women and homosexual men is a result of the ideology of masculinity. This ideology, and the military, one of the strongest institutions backing it, degrades the homosexual individual, attacks his soul and personality because they see homosexuals as nothing but ?faggots?. Curse and despise.

Military psychiatry in Turkey provides a scientific basis for such an ideological approach to militarism. Military psychiatry in Turkey still refers to DSM II of the American Psychiatric Association. Thus, contrary to contemporary psychiatric literature, according to the military psychiatrist, homosexuality is a psycho-sexual pathology, Those who have this ?pathologhy? will not be permitted to join the army, even when they wish to. If one is discovered to be a homosexual after his recruitment, the same approach applies. This time, the law of ?unnatural sexual relations? is applicable.

Under this law, not only a soldier who has homosexual relations is discharged from the Turkish armed forces, but also the definition of this relationship is charged as being ?unnatural?! Nevertheless, the actual circumstances do not always conform to written rules. Those joining the army by hiding their homosexuality and those who are not gay but engage in same-sex intercourse in the army, are facts of life.

There are three approaches to these facts. To overlook, to neglect for the sake of protecting the honor of the unit, to exile these people to separate places, and label and discharge those defining themselves as homosexual. Of these approaches, which is to be taken depends on the situation, the location and the officers involved.

Freedom for Mehmet Tahran !

Gay and conscientious objector Mehmet Tahran has made clear in his public declaration that he would not by-pass the ?conscription problem? through means of a ?disabled? report that military psychiatrists would offer him because of his homosexuality. Conscientious objection should be a human right ! Stop custodies against conscientious objectors and free the objectors who are being held in military prison cells!


author by Joepublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 18:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mehmet Tarhan known as a gay, anarchist and total objector is taken into custody at an hotel in Izmir, when he went to work for TUYAP book fair and then sent to military bureau. At there he had declared that “You brought me here by force, I am a conscientious objector, I will not sign any document.” Mehmet is insisting on not signing anything.

Mehmet continued his resistance at Tokat 48 th Infantry Training Division where he was sent: he refused to wear uniform, didn't permit his hair and beard to be cut, and didn't sign any paper. His resistance for conscientious objection right has impacted soldiers: a group of soldiers with some officers demanded to meet Mehmet Tarhan to get info about conscientious objection and declared that they want this right to be legalised and supporters of this right to work more intensely. Mehmet is insisting on his conscientious objection right.

In spite of his declaration that he is not and will not be a soldier, he was forced to receive and accept orders at Tokat as if he was a soldier and noncomplience minutes are reported. Then he is arrested by the excuse of these minutes and transfered to Sivas for judgment. Mehmet refused to testify for the trial as it happened before when he was called to testify against the charge of ‘alienating people from army.' Mehmet is insisting on not testifying.

Mehmet will be judged of “insisting on noncomplience to get rid of army service” on 28 th April. It is clear from his objection declaration dated 27 th October 2001 that charging him of trying to escape from army service is nonsense:

"I do not believe in the necessity of the state and I do not feel any belonging to any state. I never want to strengthen military forces by actions called as the duties of citizenship. The state claimng I am a citizen of it wants to use me for military service, to turn me into a death machine and to make me a part of the crime that I explained by comprimising me in itself. The aim of the state is to reproduce its power and itself. I will not let it happen and I will protect my beliefs. I perceive the rotten report that is provided for me because I am a gay as the sign of the decadance of the state itself.

As an individual, I will not serve for any kind of military or other apparatuses of any state. I admit that to excuse for this is an insult to myself and I refuse every kind of state permission or deferences of the state."
Mehmet is insisting on something but, the aim of this insistance is not to escape from military service but to encounter with it. Mehmet is insisting on his guilt of loving Bar?s.

We are complices of Mehmet. We agree with his declaration that "total objection is natural right of my being, i don't want an authorisation about total objection and i believe that nobody has ao authority to give this right.", share the guilt of supporting peace and insist on this right.

Mehmet is continuing his resistance now at Sivas Military Prison. We will be at Sivas on 28 th April to support this resistance. We are inviting you to come Sivas and those who can't, to support this resistance at their cities, countries.

* which can be translated into English as follows: 1) a name given to men. 2) peace

Last minute updates:

Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan transferred to military hospital by force

I perceive the ‘rotten’ report given as a ‘right’ because of my homosexuality
as rottenness of militarist system itself.
Mehmet Tarhan

Mehmet Tarhan was undressed and forced to wear uniform by soldiers when he was sent to Sivas Military Prison by force and was physically attacked by prisoners who were provocated by a news that ‘a terrorist came!’. Mehmet is encountering another torture now.

Mehmet is conveyed to Sivas Military Hospital by the order of attorney generalship in 19th April 2005. In spite of his resistance against this order, he was got into a military automobile by force and sent to hospital. The visiting demand of his relatives and lawyers is refused. Mehmet declared that he won’t accept the ‘rotten’ report given as a right by military to homosexuals and this report is the evidence of rotten character of militarist system itself.

Lawyers after meeting with attorney pointed out that inspection of Mehmet against his will is a form of torture, they were not allowed to see their client and demanded these unlawful practices to be stopped. They recalled to attorney that reason at law is important, it couldn’t be ignored that the reason of disobedience of their client is conscientious objection, ‘inspection’ can only be done when two parts do want it and when it’s done by force, it is a torture. After these statements, the attorney permitted lawyers to see Mehmet. But he still insists on inspection. Mehmet is expected to be inspected by a comission on Tuesday, just before his trial.

Mehmet Tarhan is refusing to sign any document related with army and resisting against the orders to make him sign these papers. He is stil under psychological oppression.

Army that has no right on Mehmet has put him into military hospital by force and still insisting on inspecting him. Army is avoiding to face with conscientious/total objection perpetually, and tracing the same policy at this case as well. Militarist mentality eager to judge a person who is not a soldier because of his disobedience, is now trying to give a ‘rotten’ report in order to close this case by insisting on ‘inspection’ torture.

The one under oppression is not only Mehmet. People supporting Mehmet’s resistance is also subject to this oppression. Last night (19th April) one of our friends from Solidarity with Mehmet Tarhan Iniciative, when she was going to home, was got out of taxi and taken into an automobile by some people and brought to an office. Our friend declares that these guys didn’t tell her who they were and why they took her to that office. She was asked some questions about her relation with Mehmet, the publishment she and Mehmet were working for and people with whom she talked at her mobile phone. Then these guys took our friend back to that place and released.

They make a mistake if they believe that we will give up supporting Mehmet Tarhan by taking us into custody, listening phones. All these oppressive act only serve for testifying to our and Mehmet’s beliefs.

Solidarity Initiative with Mehmet Tarhan

For detailed info:
Av. Abdullah Öztürk: +90 546 252 69 72

articles about mehmet tarhan at istanbul indymedia

author by Andreas Speckpublication date Thu May 05, 2005 23:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The trial against conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan (TK14724), who has been arrested on 8 April 2005 (see TK14724-080405 - has been adjourned to 26 May today. At the end of the trial, Sahin Ozbay (TK14728), who had declared his conscientious objection on 4 October 2004, was arrested. It is expected that he will be brought to the recruitment office and then transferred to "his" military unit, and will follow the fate of Mehmet Tarhan.

The trial against Mehmet Tarhan has been adjourned to 26 May, so that the court can hear witness statements from 10 soldiers, who witnessed Mehmet Tarhan's "insubordination in front of his unit", according to Article 88 of the Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK). This charge carries a penalty between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment. The trial was attended by a group of Turkish supporters and conscientious objectors, and two international observers, who formed an international delegation organised by War Resisters' International. Tina
Kemler from Germany and Eldad Zion from Israel reported on the arrest of Sahin Ozbay and the adjournment of the trial, and are presently discussing further action with the Turkish supporters.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objectors Mehmet Tarhan and Sahin Ozbay.

War Resisters' International calls for a continued campaign of protest letters and email to the Turkish authories, and Turkish embassies abroad. A protest email to the General Staff headquarters can be sent at . Vigils and demonstrations in front of Turkish consulates and embassies can also be effective. A list of Turkish embassies abroad can be found at

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

author by via ainfos - Solidarity Initiative with Mehmet Tarhanpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 21:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Conscientious/total Objector (CO) Mehmet Tarhan, whose trial has been going on for over 4,5 months already by the Military Court of Justice, has been imprisoned to a historical punishment. In the court hearing that joined two seperate claims that are namely "Insubordination before command" and "Insubordination before command for trying to escape from military service" pursuant Art. 88 of the Turkish Penal Military Code, Mehmet Tarhan was sentenced to a four (4) years of jail, 2 years from each claim.

Sivas Military Court of Justice has not yet declared the justification for the decision. Suna Coskun, attorney of Mehmet Tarhan, expressed that this is the toughest imprisonment decision taken in Turkey towards CO's and explained that right after the declaration of the justification for the sentence, they will appeal to The Supreme Court of military appeals for cassation. "Mehmet can not be deported from Sivas until the justification is declared" told Suna Coskun and expressed that Mehmet is in good health, good mood and received the decision in a dignified tone.

It is expressed that for Mehmet Tarhan, who has been in good health during the hearing, the execution of the jail sentence will last for 19 months in military prison.

author by EOpublication date Fri Nov 04, 2005 20:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Conscientous Objector Mehmet Tarhan?s Demands Granted
Tarhan ended hunger strike on day 34.

Conscientous objector Mehmet Tarhan, currently held at Sivas Military Prison, ended the hunger strike he had started on September 30, on its 34th day, on November 2, 2005.

Having been subject to unjust and arbitrary practices in prison, Tarhan had gone on a hunger strike on September 30, 2005 after his hair and beard were forcefully and violently shaven. Tarhan?s demands (with the exception of a civilian doctor?s examination) were met after 34 days.

Tarhan?s lawyers announced his demands as follows:
?Protesting the unfair and inhumane treatment he received, legal action against the perpetrators, civilian doctor?s examination, having the same rights as all the other prisoners?...
Tarhan who has been in Sivas Military Prison for 7 months, had previously gone on a 28-day hunger strike with similar demands.

Military Court of Appeal overruled the 4-year sentence given to Tarhan.

The verdict that sentenced Tarhan to 4-years, was overruled on the grounds of procedure, according to the information we have at this moment (but there can be other reasons for the overrulement). It is expected that Tarhan will be tried again by the Sivas Military Court on the charges of ?insistent insubordination before the unit with the intent of evading military service altogether.?

Who is Mehmet Tarhan?

Tarhan was taken into custody on April 8, 2005 on the grounds that he was a ?military service deserter,? and transferred in the accomaniment of the gendarme to Tokat 48th Infantry Regiment. He had declared his conscientous objection on October 27, 2001 at the Ankara branch of IHD(Human Rights Association).

On April 10, 2005, Sivas Military court filed a lawsuit against Mehmet Tarhan on the charge of ?insistent insubordination before the unit with the intent of evading military service altogether? (Article 88 of the Military Criminal Code) after he refused ?to wear military uniform.?

Mehmet Tarhan was kept in Sivas Military Prison from April 20?26, 2005 for examination about his homosexuality and his psychiatric condition. But Tarhan refused examination, defining the ?unfit for service? report (widely known as ?rotten? report) as the ?rottenness of the militaristic order itself.?.

It was understood that from the day Mehmet Tarhan was imprisoned until May 19, 2005, he was constantly threatened, harassed, subject to blackmail and beatings by other inmates (who were encouraged by some people from the prison administration). Tarhan?s lawyers applied to the Military Prosecutor about these atrocities. Also shortly after the atrocities were revealed to the press and public opinion, on May 25, 2005 Tarhan?s hair and beard were violently and forcefully shaved by 7 soldiers. Tarhan who sustained injuries during these events went on a hunger strike with the demands of ?Protesting the unfair and inhumane treatment he received, legal action against the perpetrators, civilian doctor?s examination, having the same rights as all the other prisoners.? This hunger strike lasted for 28 days.

On June 9, 2005'te the third hearing of the case was held and Tarhan was released in order to be tried free. But the vicious cycle of Military Recruitment center, Military Unit, Military Prison was put to work again and Tarhan was sent once again to the Tokat Infantry Regiment escorted by the gendarme. As he again refused to wear military uniform, a second lawsuit was filed on June 10, 2005 on the charge of ?insistent insubordination before the unit with the intent of evading military service altogether.?

On August 10, 2005 the cases were concluded and Mehmet Tarhan was sentenced to 4 years (2 years for each case) in prison. The decision was appealed.

On September 30, 2005, Tarhan?s hair and beard were again forcefully and violently shaved by 7-8 soldiers. After this torture, Tarhan went on another indefinite hunger strike with the following demands: ?Protesting the unfair and inhumane treatment he received, legal action against the perpetrators, civilian doctor?s examination, having the same rights as all the other prisoners.? After the negotiations by his lawyers, his demands were met on November 2, 2005 and he ended his hunger strike.

On October 26, 2005, a delegation from Human Rights Association, visited Tarhan and gathered information about the marks of violence on his body, the prison conditions and the torture.

On October 31, 2005 two doctors from the Sivas Doctor?s Association met face to face with Tarhan, and although they could not medically examine him, they got information. From October 31, 2005 on, as a result of the negotiation efforts from Mehmet?s lawyers, agreement was reached about his demands.

On November 2, 2005 his statement in relation to the complaint was taken by the Military Prosecutor. And on the same day, he ended his hunger strike.

For more information: (in English, German, French, Spanish) (in Turkish) (in Turkish and English)

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