Many Turkish soldiers wearing their combat gear march down the street in a victory parade dedicated to Victory in the Patriotic War at the Azadlig Square | CC BY 4.0

Guide to Conscientious Objection in Turkey

Militarism is one of the greatest threats to all life and our planet, and wars amount to one of the greatest crimes against humanity in today's world. Fuelled by the arms industry and arms trade, wars serve only political and economic interests, and the greed of world leaders, and war profiteers.

Despite the irreversible destruction, trauma and illegality of war crimes, governments and states continue to deepen the effects of war with their anti-peace policies as they carry out their own interests.

Conscientious objection is an anti-war attitude, aimed at eliminating the barbaric practice of war and armed conflict. Conscientious objectors refuse to serve in the military based on moral, political, or religious grounds. They stand against murder and senseless deaths caused by violent resolutions which never bring peace.


Group of people declaring their CO in Istanbul
Better World Info I Huseyin

Conscientious objection to military service is our human right and it is protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Despite this, the right to conscientious objection in Turkey can lead to "civil death".

Military service in Turkey is compulsory for every male between the ages of 20-41. The right to conscientious objection against military service has been stripped from citizens. There is neither mechanism to which conscientious objectors can apply, or an alternative civilian service. Sanctions against objectors mean that arrest warrants, lifelong prosecution, and imprisonment, are a very real reality. The resulting "civil death" means that social, cultural, and economic survival is almost impossible.

You can find more information on the many restrictions and violations that exist, and the current status of the right to conscientious objection in Turkey in our Turkey-CO section. You can also access general information about the right to conscientious objection in Turkey, current publications and individual CO's stories from this section.


Press Conference of EBCO Annual Report in Turkey 2014
Better World Info I Huseyin

As part of our basic human rights, governments must recognize the right to conscientious objection of military service in all countries where military service is compulsory. In countries like Turkey where military service is compulsory, it is essential to develop comprehensive policies for peace and human rights to support conscientious objectors who refuse to fight.

The discrimination and marginalization of conscientious objectors must stop.

For more information check out our comprehensive related topics on Military, Peace, and Conscientious Objectors & War Resisters. 

Author: Huseyin 15.08.23 (Edited by Rachael Mellor 25.08.23) 

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