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Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector jailed

28 February 2014

A Turkish Cypriot journalist has been jailed for refusing to take part in the annual compulsory military service exercises in North Cyprus.

Murat Kanatli, a board member of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, declared his conscientious objection on ideological grounds in 2009 and has since refused to participate in the annual compulsory military exercises in the TRNC conducted by Turkish forces.

Murat’s first appeared in Court related to this ‘crime’ in June 2011, but has since taken his case the Constitutional Court and faced numerous postponements and trials.

The Governing Board of the Union of Cyprus Journalists in Nicosia condemned the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of Kanatli and called for his immediate release.

The statement read:

“Kanatli’s conscious refusal to serve in the occupation army is an act of resistance against oppression and deprivation of human rights of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots by the occupation forces.

The Governing Board of the Union of Cyprus Journalists will report the conviction and imprisonment of our Turkish Cypriot colleague in all international fora and particularly strongly in International and European Federation of Journalists.”

Kanatli, known for his democratic beliefs has been a member of the Union of Cyprus Journalists since October 2003. There also are other Turkish Cypriots who are Members of the Journalists Union.

Prime Minister Yorgancioglu said, in reference the rejection of the journalist’s conscious objection plea, that in many countries it is a founding human rights principle, however, this right is not recognised by the TRNC Constitution. He added that efforts towards amending the constitution are continuing.

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