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Turkey fined over Cypriot conscientious objector

turkish parade3
The concept of conscientious objection to military service is not currently recognised in the north’s laws. As a result, all refusal to engage in military service is automatically considered a criminal act.

The Republic of Turkey received a €9,000 fine on Tuesday from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for the imprisonment of a Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector.

The ECtHR ruled that Turkey had violated the objector’s “freedom of thought and conscience”.

The objector, named as Murat Kanatli, has refused to report for military service in the north since 2009, and was sentenced to 10 days in prison by a military court.

He applied to the ECtHR in 2015, citing Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

While the Turkish Cypriot armed forces are nominally independent of the Turkish armed forces, and the north acts as an independent entity from Turkey, Kanatli applied for the case to be taken against Turkey in light of previous ECtHR decisions which had described the north as “a sub-administration of Turkey”.

Kanatli is one of a number of conscientious objectors who have refused to accept conscription in the north, which is still mandatory.

The concept of conscientious objection to military service is not currently recognised in the north’s laws, and as a result, all refusal to engage in military service is automatically considered a criminal act.

A bill had been tabled in ‘parliament’ in January which would have legalised conscientious objection, but it was voted down by ‘MPs’ from all three ruling coalition parties.

UBP ‘MP’ Sunat Atun, speaking on behalf of the ‘government’ at the time, said “it is not possible for us to be in a situation which opens the door to conscientious objection.”

“We are currently in a state of ceasefire, and we know the priests on the other side are receiving weapons training. Everything is based on militarism and increasing military power in Southern Cyprus. They are increasing arms purchases,” he said.

The bill was tabled as another conscientious objector, Mustafa Hurben, had been taken to court over his refusal to partake in military service.

He was eventually jailed after refusing to pay an 800TL fine, which was worth €24 at the time.

It had been expected that he would have been given a harsher punishment, with Hurben saying his lighter punishment “means that both the court and the prosecutor’s office understand something is wrong”.

 

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