ISTANBUL – A Turkish military court has for the first time acknowledged the right to conscientious objection against military service. The soldier involved in the case, Muhammed Serdar Delice, last year decided not to finish his military service because his Islamic belief didn’t allow him to kill anybody.
According to experts, the verdict could lead to broader acceptance of conscientious objectors in Turkey. The fact that Turkey has no arrangement for conscientious objection is an important obstacle against Turkey joining the European Union.
Turkey has an estimated three hundred conscientious objectors. They are often sentenced to repeated terms in prison because they keep refusing to serve in the army. A ten month prison sentence was asked against Delice, but the judge decided to set him free immediately.
The judge referred to an earlier verdict by the European Court for Human Rights. According to the judge the Turkish constitution allows for conscientious objection.