Military

Turkish Armed Forces and LGBTI

Prison time and fine for Conscientious Objector Mehmet Tarhan

The Sivas Military Court sentenced conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan to 15 months in prison and a 9,000 Turkish Lira fine. The Military Court’s ruling ignores the European Court of Human Rights’ earlier verdict on Tarhan v. Turkey.

Source: “Vicdani retçi Mehmet Tarhan’a hapis ve para cezası!” (“Prison time and fine for conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan”), KaosGL.org, 10 February 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18692

Conscientious objector and LGBTI activist Mehmet Tarhan received a 15-month prison sentence and a 9,000 Turkish lira (~$3,600) fine based on disobedience charges.

The Sivas Military Court’s ruling on the case is in conflict with the earlier European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) verdict from 17 July 2012, which stated that Tarhan’s rights were violated by the Turkish state.

Tarhan spoke to KaosGL.org about the court’s decision: “The Sivas Military Court has shown that it does not recognize either the constitution or the European Court of Human Rights. We will take the decision to the Supreme Court of Appeals.”

mehmettarhan1

What happened before?

Tarhan rejected military service and announced his conscientious objection in 2001. In 2005, he was forcibly taken for military service, sued for insubordination in two separate cases, and treated poorly whilst under arrest in a military prison.

In violation of the constitution and the ECtHR, Tarhan was given a physical exam because of his homosexuality.

According to records dated 25 May 2005, Tarhan’s hair and beard were shaved against his will by seven soldiers, who pulled him down onto the ground and got on top of him. Tarhan reported having suffered several bruises and abrasions on his body. He started a 28-day hunger strike the same day.

ECtHR convicted Turkey

Tarhan then applied to the ECtHR to defend his right to conscientious objection and report his maltreatment under arrest. The ECtHR ruled that the European Human Rights Convention was violated in Tarhan’s case and sentenced Turkey to pay 10,000 Euros.

Amnesty International Statement from 18 October 2006- “Turkey: Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan sentenced

“I was a commander but when I came out as trans, it was all finished”

Doğa told us of her education and work life for the upcoming “We can’t get enough of trans” book: “I was a commander in the state’s military at age 18. When I came out as trans, all those certificates, praises, badges were zeroed. I think it’s very funny.”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Komutandım, trans olduğumu söyleyince her şey sıfırlandı,” (“I was a commander but when I came out as trans, it was all finished”), kaosGL.org, 9 December 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=18192

Doğa from the the Counselling Centre for Transgender People Association (T-Der) answered our questions for the upcoming “We can’t get enough of trans” book.

We are sharing Doğa’s story of family, education, activism, media, the problems facing the trans movement and possible solutions.

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Call to Reject the Motion on Military Action in Syria and Iraq goes to Woman MPs from 38 Women’s Organizations

Contents of this post:
(1) “Call to Reject the Motion on Military Action in Syria and Iraq goes to Woman MPs from 38 Women’s Organizations” (Bianet)
(2) "Presentation on Women's Realities in War" (Women for Peace)

Source: “38 Kadın Örgütünden Kadın Vekillere ‘Tezkereye Hayır’ Çağrısı” (“Call to Reject the Motion on Military Action in Syria and Iraq goes to Woman MPs from 38 Women’s Organizations”), Bianet, 1 October 2014, http://bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/158878-38-kadin-orgutunden-kadin-vekillere-tezkereye-hayir-cagrisi

38 women’s organizations have called upon women MPs to reject the motion on military action in Iraq-Syria and to oppose the proposal to establish either a buffer zone or a security zone in the region.

38 women’s organizations have released a statement addressed at women MPs in Turkey regarding the Iraq-Syria motion:

“We know and have studied on the field, what women experience during war times. As such, we are aware that women should not give way to policies that will fuel wars. Do not accept the motion, oppose the buffer or security zone.”

We Insist On Peace

Source: Bianet

The statement drew attention to the problems that are likely to be encountered during cross-border military interventions. Women’s organizations emphasized that buffer or security zones are only ever initiated in uninhabited geographical locations, and yet, the proposed buffer zone includes Rojava. [Translators’ note: The population of Rojava is variously estimated as being between 2 and 3 million.]

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A gay man’s conscript experience: I would use SPF 50 sunscreen on sunny days

Source: Ayşe Arman, “Bir gay’in askerlik anıları: Güneşli havalarda, 50 faktör güneş kremi sürüyordum”, (“A gay man’s conscript experience: I would use SPF 50 sunscreen in sunny days”), Hürriyet Kelebek, 16 August 2014, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/kelebek/hayat/27009085.asp

“All men born in Turkey must serve in the military when they reach a certain age. Well, I was born here too and I am a man…”

“I am gay and I have just returned from the military upon the completion of my military service. You have published several stories on the ordeals gay men, homosexuals and trans individuals must go through in order to avoid serving in the military. As for me, I would like to explain to you why I chose to serve and tell you of my experiences during military service. Would you be interested?”

I called him immediately and we met for an interview.

Kaan Arer is an impressive man. He is educated and knowledgeable, frank and sincere and very intelligent as well. He is a mathematician and the winner of a TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) award.

He requested that we not reveal his face in the photos accompanying this article as he continues to work as a teacher.

Kaan Arer has a blog where writes about homosexuality.

Some of his pieces are quite brave. He has written about an occasion, during his military service, when his boyfriend visited him on a day off. He wrote of how they made love in a café restroom. His description of this event, quite far from being tawdry, is sensitive and elegant.

I wish him all the best in his life as a mathematician and as a writer.

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Lots of guns but no trans!

Source: Helin, “Top Var, Tüfek Var, trans yok!” (“Lots of guns but no trans!”), KaosGL, 15 August 2014 [March-April 2011], http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17309.

Helin wrote about her “adventure with the military” for KaosGL’s 117th issue (March – April 2011) titled “Militarism.”

My name is Helin; I am a 26 year old transsexual woman. My adventure with the military lasted for about six days. And this process was such a tiring and chafing one… Even now, as I am writing about my experiences, I get goose bumps: I might end up having to re-experience this all over again as I write about it. I was a teacher for 3 years following my BA. I was so anxious about the military that I neither had the power to go to the draft office, nor to get a “pink report.” I didn’t want to get into trouble with these procedures. This year, along with the process of opening up to my family, I found that power in me.

The First Day

Doctor: “Are your breasts real?”

I didn’t know what I was about to live through as I, along with my mother, set out to Cebeci Draft Office; nor did I know that my adventure was going to last so long. The appalling experience had already started in my very first moments as I stepped through the doors of the office. Once our belongings were searched, we were asked for our IDs. I find it very difficult to describe how I felt at that moment. I gave my ID card to the soldier in front of me with much haste and without looking at his face. But this haste couldn’t prevent the chuckles, the whispers, nor the sounds and gestures of disapproval, along with the humiliating looks, to surround us. Both my mother and I had become so tense that I don’t remember how we went from that doorway to the relevant office. Once there, they referred us to Mamak Draft Office, which was located at another floor of the same building. Here, we were surrounded yet again by the gaze of both the officers and the draft candidates who were receiving their conscription. The minutes that would truly wear me out were those when it was our turn to be served. I was asked to get 24 passport-style photos downstairs. Everyone was gazing at me as my photographs were being taken. Some were looking in a manner to harass me because they understood that I was trans, and others because I was a woman. Even though we were inside this office, there were even some who verbally harassed me, as if we were on the streets. I remember how I got hot flashes, how my hands started sweating, and how I wanted to die. Without my mother at my side, I wouldn’t have stayed there for a moment. But I endured. Because in order for me to do as I wanted, I needed that report that would brand me as “ill.” This was a great contradiction for me. I kept trying to explain to my family that I was not ill. And now, with my mother beside me, I was officially petitioning the state to accept that I was ill and to not draft me.

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Reply from Ministry of National Defense to Parliamentary Question by Sebahat Tuncel

Source: İsmet Yılmaz, “Yazılı Soru Önergesinin Cevabı,” “Reply to the Written Parliamentary Question,” 5 July 2012, http://www2.tbmm.gov.tr/d24/7/7-7088sgc.pdf

Republic of Turkey

Ministry of National Defense, Ankara

Date: 05.07.2012

To the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Speaker’s Office:

About: Document entitled “Parliamentary Question” from the Grand National Assembly with date 21 May 2012 and number A.01.0.KKB.0.10.00.00-67274.

Please find attached in Supplement-A the reply to Istanbul Deputy Sebahat Tuncel’s Parliamentary Question (number 7/7088) addressing the Minister of National Defense.

Kindly submitted for your information,

İsmet Yılmaz

Minister of National Defense

REPLY to WRITTEN PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION (number 7/7088) by ISTANBUL DEPUTY SEBAHAT TUNCEL

1.     There are no current projects towards abolishing mandatory military service or towards recognizing conscientious objection as a legal right.

2.     There are no statistics kept in relation to those who have declared different sexual orientations during medical examinations and requested “Unfit for Military Service” reports in the past years.

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BDP Sebahat Tuncel’s Parliamentary Question on the Military

Source: Sebahat Tuncel, “Soru Önergesi,” “Parliamentary Question,” 3 May 2012, http://www2.tbmm.gov.tr/d24/7/7-7088s.pdf

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Peace and Democracy Party
No: 992
Date: 03.05.2012

To the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Speaker’s Office:

I request that the Minister of National Defense Mr. İsmet Yılmaz provide written replies to the questions I hereby submit, in accordance with the 98th bylaw of the Constitution and the 99th bylaw of the Standing Orders.

Sebahat Tuncel,

Istanbul Deputy

Mandatory military service has been abolished in nearly every European country, yet it continues in Turkey today. Many youths are against the mandatory military system for conscientious, political or belief-related reasons, by objecting to militarism or due to their sexual orientation. The right to object to mandatory military service is included in international agreements and it is recognized as a “right” in law. However, such objection is still viewed as a crime in Turkey. Those who suffer most in relation to this are young men who wish not to serve in the military due to their sexual orientation. Unlike the respect they receive in democratic countries, in Turkey, those with different sexual orientations are considered to have “character disorders.” They are subjected to pressure and othering by the state and multiple sectors of society.

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