Firat News: The reason why I am a conscientious objector – Mehmet Yıldırım

Mehmet Yıldırım, the brother of Medeni Yıldırım who was shot and killed by Turkish soldiers during a protest against a base construction in Lice this past June, has announced that he will refuse to do his military service. Mehmet Yildirim has demanded the right to conscientious objector status, saying “If I pick a weapon I will have picked up a weapon against my own people. With that gun that I pick up will I defend the state from my own people?”

Medeni Yıldırım was killed on June 28th when Turkish soldiers opened fire on a crowd protesting the construction of new military base near the village of Kayacık in Lice in Diyarbakir province.

His brother, Mehmet Yıldırım, made a public statement declaring his status as a conscientious objector in the Vedat Aydın Meeting Room of the Diyarbakir Branch of the Human Rights Association. In Turkey there no legally recognized right to conscientious objection. Mehmet, who is 23 years, explained that he had already been avoiding military service for three years, saying that he did not want to “use the weapons of the Turkish Armed Forces that had been used in the region to kill so many people in the past.”

“I have been avoiding military service for three years. I was affected by many events, such as when 12 year-old Uğur Kaymaz was shot 13 times, the killing of Ceylan Önkol, the Roboski massacre. If I pick a weapon I will have picked up a weapon against my own people. With that gun that I pick up will I defend the state from my own people?  It was not just the killing of my brother that pushed me to become a conscientious objector. But at one level I was motivated by my brother. If they take my explanation as an denouncement that their own problem.”

Mehmet want to say, “I do not want to be under the authority of the military, I do not want to take orders. I do not want to be a member of an army that kills my own people. Forget the fee in lieu of service, whatever options presents itself I won’t do it. I reject it. Whatever happens with what comes next my decision is clear.”

Mehmet reminded those assembled that conscientious objectors had faced prison, saying “I think about how many people that weapon killed that they will put in my hands. For years the bodies of people we have lost in Lice and in the region are coming out of the military bases. Most recently the bodies of 8 villagers in Lice came out of a military base in a group.”

“Right now I know scores of people who do not want to do military service. But all of them are simply avoiding it. They also do not want to go. They are afraid and have doubts. The state is not letting conscientious objectors get their message out publicly.”

Finally concerning the case of his brother Mehmet said, “Whenever we try to learn something the prosecutors reject our requests. We are completely unable to intervene in the case. We want the secrecy around the case to be lifted.”

* Translation by The Rojava Report

ANF  - Diyarbakır/Amed
24 November 2013