Turkey Convicted of Conscientious Objection, Death on Compulsory Drafting

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Turkey on June 3, for both “abusing right to live” regarding a claim of suicide during compulsory military services and arresting conscientious objectors.

Commiting suicide on March 1, 2005 during compulsory military service, Ferit Aktepe had been found fit for service for service by the doctors. He also didn’t report any psychological problem. However, during the compulsory military service he showed anxiety indications and started to receive drug therapy. As a safety measure, his gun was impounded. On March 1, 2005, he was found to have been lethally wounded by a weapon belonging to one of the other fellows, and he lost his life on the same day.

His six relatives applied to ECHR by the reason of abusing right to live with regards to Article 2 of European Declaration of Human Rights. In their submission, they stated that the military authorities should have taken appropriate measures in order to protect him from physical and mental injury.

Moreover, they complained on insufficient investigation regarding the incident.

ECHR announced its decision about the submission on Tuesday June, 2. Turkey was convicted for “abusing right to live”.

Turkey will pay EUR 13,650 to the six relatives of Aktepe jointly as a just satisfaction; EUR 9,000 to Aktepe’s mother and father jointly, EUR 6,500 to two brothers of Aktepe jointly, EUR 4,500 to his grandmother and grandfather jointly. In addition Turkey will pay EUR 2,000 for total cost.

Freedom of thought, religion and conscience

Living in İstanbul and İzmir, Jehovah's Witnesses Çağlar Buldu, Barış Görmez, Ersin Ölgün and Nevzat Umdu refused to serve in compulsory military service by declaring their conscientious objection. Therefore, they took into prison due to accusing of not wearing military uniform and failure to obey order.

In their submission to ECHR, they also stated that they were subjected to ill-treatment during questioning.

According to the declared decision, Turkey was founded guilty and condemned with regards to Article 9 regulated “Freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, and Article 9 regulated the fair hearing, of European Declaration on Human Rights.

In addition to this, ECHR ruled that Turkey violated the Article 3 of European Declaration of Human Rights regarding the ban of torture and ill-treatment, due to its imprisonment and questioning conditions.

Buldu will be paid EUR 12,000; Ölgün will be paid EUR 7,000 and Umdu will be paid EUR 5,000 for non-pecuniary damages. Also Görmez, Ölgün and Buldu will be paid EUR 5,000 and Umdu will be paid EUR 3,650 for court expenses.

Jehovah's Witnesses Barış Görmez was released from prison on February 16, 2012 after jailing for four years at certain intervals due to not wearing military uniform and failure to obey orders.

Ahmet Yorulmaz from Türkiye Yehova Şahitleri (Jehovah’s Witnesses of Turkey) declared that the court returned an acquittal regarding the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses Barış Görmez after four years of imprisonment by considering the decision of ECHR about Bayatyan.



Ayça Söylemez (for Bianet)







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