Saturday, July 03, 2010

Turkey: Kurdish politician under investigation for "alienating the public from military service"

Bengi Yildiz, turkey, mike hitchen, onlineSource: The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX)

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Batman province prosecutor has launched an investigation into the Peace and Democracy Party's deputy chair, Bengi Yildiz, on charges of "alienating the public from military service". The actions against Yildiz were initiated after he called on citizens to refuse to perform military service, saying, "Do not send your children to the military."

Under Article 318 of the Turkish Criminal Code, Yildiz could face between six months and two years in prison for "discouraging people from performing military service".

Yildiz made the statement after a 19 June 2010 attack by the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on a gendarmerie outpost in Semdinli, close to the Iraqi border in southeastern Turkey.

In a press release issued on 20 June in Batman, Yildez said, "There will be funerals. There will also be funerals for Kurdish children. Do not send your children to the military after this. Our children will die and we will go to prison. Spread the word to everybody."

Yildiz emphasized that the right to conscientious objection is recognized by international agreements.

As reported by "Hürriyet" newspaper, the prosecutor also plans to launch an investigation of the Turkish politician on allegations of violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations and disseminating "propaganda for an illegal organization".

The Turkish courts have previously punished statements regarding the topic of conscientious objection. People who publicly support conscientious objection are tried in military courts. Turkey is one of two Council of Europe member countries that do not recognize the right to conscientious objection.