"Urgent Call for Action for Conscientous objector Mehmet Tarhan!!!" sign now


Conscientous objector Mehmet Tarhan battered as his hair was violently cut by military prison authorities in Sivas. Mehmet has gone on indefinite hunger strike with the demands of getting civilian doctor examination, a report from a forensic medical facility documenting the torture and legal action against the perpetrators.

Mehmet Tarhan was arrested April 8, 2005, and taken from his hotel room at 5 am to the military unit in Tokat to be forced to do compulsory military service. Because he refused obeying any orders given to him (such as wearing a military uniform), he was arrested on the charge of insubordination before the unit, article 88 of Military Criminal Code. Same day, he was locked up in Sivas military prison and was subject to a lynching attempt by a group of prisoners encouraged by the prison authorities. His lawyers made press releases on May 24, 2005 and the lynch attempt was publicized. As a result of this, Mehmets hair and beard were forcefully and violently shaved by the prison administration. Also all his rights were revoked and he was isolated. Mehmet went on a 28 day hunger strike in protest of the revocation of his rights, from May 25 to June 21 when his demands were partially met.

At the third hearing of his trial on June 9, 2005, Mehmet was released and the trial was adjourned to August 4, 2005. Although he was released, with the instruction of ASAL (Head of the Department of Military Recruitment) Mehmet was sent again to the military unit. As Mehmet disobeyed orders there, he was arrested again and another law suit was filed on the charges of insubordination. At the joint hearing of both trials on August 4, he received an unprecedented verdict of 4 years (2 years for each case). The lawyers applied for appeals and are waiting for a court date. Even if the verdict changes at the appeals court and Mehmet gets released, he could be re-sent to the military processing office, from there to the military unit, arrested for insubordination and sent back to prison again. This vicious circle amounts to a tacit life sentence.

Meanwhile prison authorities continue to harass him by forcefully cutting his hair once every two weeks or so and taking arbitrary disciplinary measures for not cooperating, such as solitary confinement for sometimes 15 days on end; revocation of his rights to make phonecalls, to receive reading materials and letters and see visitors during this period.

Yesterday (September 30) he was seriously battered by 7 or 8 guards under the rubric of giving him a haircut. As a result Mehmet went on hunger strike again.

"At about 3 pm today, accompanied by 3-4 guardians, the noncommissioned officer Hilmi SAVLUK told me that my hair was to be cut. Then with 7-8 people, by force and torture my hair and beard was cut but they were unable to cut my moustache. Also a friend from the ward faced a harsh intervention by the guards when he tried to resist the way they treated me. After the "hair cut" torture, there is pain on my face, in my left and right hands, pain in my left arm as they have mounted on it, pain in my left foot, injuries and bruises on my arm and legs. I cannot turn my neck around because of pain on my face and neck," says Mehmet.

Following the intervention, Mehmet went on an indefinite hunger strike with the following demands;

- Documentation of the torture via a medical report from forensic medicine under a civilian doctor's control,

- Starting legal action against the perpetrators,

- Provision of his needs during the hunger strike (salt, sugar, drinking
water, juice, vitamin B1).

Hilmi Savluk, who replaced the previous prison warden Mustafa Selvi after the earlier torture/bashing/exaction events in Sivas Military Prison, is clearly perpetuating the abuse and torture in prison.

October 1, 2005: Latest Update

Mehmet was forcefully transferred to the military hospital today around 02:30 pm. His wardmate Ali who resisted Mehmets treatment earlier and received a harsh response, is also subject to further violence by prison authorities under the pretense of giving him a haircut. Ali has also gone on a hunger strike with similar demands as Mehmets.

As a response to the written petition prepared by his lawyers Suna and Senem demanding Mehmets transfer to a forensic medical facility, prison director Major Volkan phoned the sergeant on duty in prison and ordered Mehmets transferral to military prison.
Although Mehmet said that he refuses this and only accepts a transferral to a civil hospital, they told him this was an order and that they had to take him to a military hospital . Mehmet repeated his demands and declared that he will not let himself be examined there. But two doctors, one of them in camouflage wear, walked around him for about 10 minutes and prepared a report stating that there are no signs of battering.
Around 03:30 pm, he was back in prison. He said he feels very tired and weak and that his pains are increasing.
They also want to cut Mehmets wardmate Alis hair. He resists and they are using harsh interventions. They take him to the cell, do violence to him, then take him back to the ward. Having received harsh blows to his head, Alis vision began blurring and his right side was numb around 5 pm. Around 6:30 he was transferred to the military hospital. They deemed he was battered and sent him to the university hospital. He fainted on the way there. At the university hospital two doctors examined him and gave a report stating he was battered. When he went to the university hospital he was unconscious but he says it was around 9:30 pm. After the examination he was brought back to the prison. Since he had to be under observation because of the blow he received to his head, they stayed up all night.

Mehmets wardmate Ali is also on hunger strike and his demands are as follows:
1- Public exposure of the torturers and legal action against them
2- An end to torture aimed towards prisoners and detainees.

As of now they have vitamin B1, water, salt and sugar from the previous hunger strike that will last them for a couple days. But there is no juice. They tell them they dont have any juice at the canteen and they dont know when they are going to get it.

Please forward this message to friends and send protest faxes to the numbers below, especially the military prison, to show that Mehmet is not alone.

Sivas Military Prison
Fax: + 90 346 225 3915

Head of Chiefs of Staff:
Fax: + 90 312 425 0813

The Ministry of Defense:
Fax: + 90 312 417 6386

Office of the Head of the Republic:
Fax: + 90 312 427 1330

Office of Prime Minister:
Fax: + 90 312 417 0476

For more information in English see WRI website http://www.wri-irg.org/ or http://www.refusingtokill.net/Turkey/ReleaseMehmet.htm or simply reply back with your questions to the following email adresses:

[email protected], [email protected]

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