Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector Halil Karapasaoglu was jailed for three days on Thursday for refusing to complete his military service.

Karapasaoglu appeared in military court in northern Nicosia and was handed a 1,000TL (€28.64) fine, but refused to pay, and was thus jailed.

He first refused to be called up in 2013 and was eventually sentenced to jail for the first time in 2019. His initial sentence of 20 days was eventually reduced to just four on appeal.

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

Meanwhile, a delegation from the Conscientious Objection Initiative in Cyprus met with the north’s ‘deputy parliament speaker’ Fazilet Ozdenefe, accompanied by the European Bureau for Conscientious Objector’s chairwoman Alexia Tsouni.

Ozdenefe pointed out that the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) has been incorporated into the north’s legal system and that this would allow ‘parliament’ to address the issue of conscientious objection not being recognised in the north’s laws.

She also pointed out that a bill to legalise conscientious objection had been drafted in 2019, but that it had been abandoned after her party the CTP were removed from ‘government’ in May that year.

The matter of the ECHR has risen to pertinence in recent months, with the Republic of Turkey receiving a €9,000 fine from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for the imprisonment of Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector Murat Kanatli, after ruling that Article 9 of the ECHR, Kanatli’s right to freedom of thought, had been violated.

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.