Turkey: Gay Conscientious Objector Ends Hunger Strike, Prison Sentence Overruled on Appeal

Mehmet Tarhan, the gay Turkish conscientious objector, has stopped his hunger strike after winning most of his demands. And Tarhan has had his four-year prison sentence overruled by the Military Court of Appeal The hunger strike lasted for 34 days, starting on September 30 following the forcible and violent shaving of his hair and beard.

He was protesting the unjust and arbitrary practices of the authorities in Sivas Military Prison.

All his demands were met, except for a medical examination by a civilian doctor.

Tarhan’s lawyers announced his 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”...

The verdict that sentenced Tarhan to four-years was overruled on the grounds of procedure, it appears. There has been no official announcement.

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.”

Mehmet Tarhan was taken into custody on April 8, 2005 on the grounds that he was a “military service deserter,” and, accompanied by police, was transferred to Tokat 48th Infantry Regiment. He had declared his conscientious objection to military service 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 reported 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 prison staff. Tarhan’s lawyers applied to the Military Prosecutor about these atrocities.

Also shortly after the atrocities were revealed to the press, on May 25, 2005 Tarhan’s hair and beard were violently and forcefully shaved by seven 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 first hunger strike lasted for 28 days.

On June 9, 2005, the third hearing of the case was held and Tarhan was released in order to be tried as a ‘free man’. But the vicious cycle of Military Recruitment Center, Military Unit, and Military Prison was put to work again. Tarhan was sent once again to the Tokat Infantry Regiment escorted by the police. 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 seven or eight 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

Original Link: http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/2005nov/0402.htm

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