Following the case of conscientious objector Halil Karapaşaoğlu, who has been fined for refusing to present himself for military service, a draft bill concerning amendments to military law is being presented to the TRNC Assembly for debate.
The new law provides for two options for Turkish Cypriots who do not want to serve in the armed forces: to provide a civil service in the army according to their capabilities, professional skills and educational background, or to be employed by the armed forces in public institutions for the public interest.
The draft law has been prepared by the coalition government consisting of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), the People’s Party (HP), the Democratic Party (DP) and the Socialist Democracy Party (TDP).
South Cyprus also has a punitive attitude toward conscientious objectors:
“It was one of the last members of the European Union to recognise the right of conscientious objection to military service. The amended National Guard Law of 9th January 1992 contained the first provisions concerning conscientious objectors to military service. It set obligatory military service at 26 months, but allowed for unarmed military service within the armed forces of 36 months and “unarmed military service outside the armed forces” (sic) of 42 months. These two possibilities have been retained in all subsequent revisions of the law.” [IFOR]
For the past four years, Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector Halil Karapaşaoğlu has refused to serve in the reserve army. This has resulted in four open cases which were concluded with a fined of 2,000TL and imprisonment for 20 days, if he does not pay the fine by 14 January.
Karapaşaoğlu said, “If I pay the fine there will be no meaning to what I am trying to do. I am ashamed to be living in a country which claims to be the most democratic of all.”
The TRNC Assembly has 20 days to debate the draft bill on the amendments to military law.
Haberler.com, International Fellowship of Reconciliation [IFOR], Cyprus Mail.