Kurdish rap artist Beşir Tapu has announced his conscientious objection to military service in Turkey.
In publicly announcing his rejection of compulsory military service, Beşir Tapu (Gewr) said: “I was born in a nomadic family in Herekol Mountain, located in Siirt (Sêrt), in 1991. I lived a nomadic life until the age of seven to eight. When I was only four years old, I witnessed incidents involving soldiers setting fire to our tents, killing our animals and torturing our family’s elder members by stripping them during the course of a military operation”.
According to Duvar News, Tapu added: “After we settled in a ghetto in Siirt, I started school. I graduated from the Elderly Care department of Mersin University in 2014. By taking a Vertical Transfer Examination (DGS), I won the right to study as a full scholarship student in the Nutrition and Dietetic department of Lefke University. However, I was deprived of my full scholarship rights on the grounds that I staged a theatre play in the scope of a Roboski Massacre commemoration. I completed university by working in various jobs, including work in cafés, bars and construction sites in order to pay for my tuition fees”.
Noting the harsh conditions graduates in Turkey also face, Tapu stated: “Similar to my conditions, hundreds of thousands of graduate students face widespread unemployment and cannot find a job due to lack of employment via the Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS), and they are made to work in different jobs”. Graduate students commit suicide under various pressures they face, he noted.
‘A world without war is possible’
Beşir Tapu explained why he is a conscientious objector (CO): “The state commits crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, the state apparatus functions to preserve the interests of those in power and who rule rather than preserve the rights, laws and freedoms of nations. Those in power are committing crimes against peoples, nature and humanity to maintain their existence. I am using my right of conscientious objection to say ‘stop the policies of sovereign rule which support militarism’. Protect humanity and nature. The war leads to traumas that last for years: individuals and societies are affected and people are forced to flee. I do not want to be a part of that ‘dirty’ and ‘evil’ war. This is not my war. The war is only a pretext for so-called protection of nature, animals and humanity. A world without war is possible”.
Criticism of Turkey’s conscientious objector (CO) stance
In June 2020, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had “urged Turkey to stop prosecuting conscientious objectors (COs) and take the necessary measures to address the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Since 2006″, War Resisters’ International confirmed, “the ECHR has ruled against Turkey multiple times regarding the treatment and status of COs. In its decision on 4th June 2020 on the cases of nine COs (Ülke group v. Turkey), the Committee of Ministers addressed the COs’ repeated prosecutions and convictions, saying that they amounted to ‘civil death’, and criticised the lack of a procedure recognising them as conscientious objectors”.
Ercan Aktaş, a conscientious objector (CO), author and journalist exiled in France, in December 2019 in Kedistan reflected upon the type of targeting CO’s have been subjected to in recent years in Turkey: “The severe experiences faced by conscientious objectors (CO’s) can be defined as ‘civil death’ which was also stated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Osman Murat Ülke. Conscientious objectors do not have the freedom to travel or stay. They cannot work in social security jobs. Conscientious objectors cannot continue their lives at open house addresses, cannot work in any public job they want and finally cannot attend university after a certain age”.
He added: “Especially in recent years, high fines have been imposed on conscientious objectors (CO’s). Since they did not pay this money, their bank accounts were confiscated and blocked … In this way, ‘civil death’ that conscientious objectors in Turkey experienced is combined with ‘legal death'”.