Turkey: Where Conscientious Objection is a Crime

Fifty-six-year-old conscientious objector Ali Fikri Işık is due to appear in front of a Turkish Military Court on October 22, facing three separate charges of ‘desertion’ that could carry a prison sentence of some two-and-a-half years. When Ali was first arrested in June of 2012 for refusing military service in 1993, he told the military court that he was a conscientious objector who had been imprisoned and tortured after the 1980 military coup, and opposes militarism and “refuses to take part in the war.” Since then he has served time in prison and continues to declare his conscientious objection to military service.   As Ali faces the Turkish courts once again, Amnesty has issued an urgent action and calls on you to help support the cause of freedom of expression and conscience in Turkey (an electronic version of the action is available in Turkish, here).

Ali Fikri Isik

Ali Fikri Isik

In the case of Erçep v. Turkey, The European Court of Human Rights found:

In Turkey, all citizens declared fit for national service were required to report for duty when called up and to perform military service. No alternative civilian service existed. Conscientious objectors had no option but to refuse to enroll in the army if they wished to remain true to their convictions. In so doing, they laid themselves open to a sort of “civil death” because of the numerous sets of criminal proceedings which the authorities invariably brought against them; they could face prosecution for the rest of their lives. The Court considered that that situation was not compatible with law enforcement in a democratic society.

Ali Fikri Işık, who is old enough to be a grandfather and was declared ‘unfit for military service’ last February, still faces a lifetime of “civil death” at the hands of the same military that tortured him over thirty years ago.

Should he be imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider him a prisoner of conscience and will demand his immediate and unconditional release.


Bill Jones, Turkey Country Specialist, Amnesty International – USA

This entry was posted in Amnesty International, Conscientious Objection, Freedom of Expression, Military, Turkey and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.