A 33 year old Turkish Cypriot man could be convicted on Thursday for refusing to report for reserve army duty in the Turkish occupied north.
In 2013, Halil Karapasiaoglou said he is a conscientious objector and refused to participate in the reserve army.
He was then referred to a ‘martial court,’ with the decision due on Thursday, January 3.
“For me the issue is ideological,” Karapasiaoglou told CNA. He said that he reported for reserve duty once after completing his military service, but for four years now he’s been refusing to report.
He says that by the age of 40, he would have to report seven more times, meaning he could face seven counts if his right as a conscientious objector is not recognised. He adds that are conscientious objector in both sides of Cyprus.
Karapiasiaoglou said he was forced to serve because his father was a foreman at a factory controlled by the occupying forces in the north. “When you are 20 you don’t have fully formed political views and you cannot be entirely sure about things. That is why I joined.”
He said he did not have the courage then to announce he was an anti-militarist but will be “on the side” of anyone with the courage to do so.
Karapiasiaoglou described reserve duty as nonsensical. “We are two communities that eat, drink, party and trade together. The Republic of Cyprus and the north have a common sewage treatment plant and give electricity to each other.”
There is also increased talk about demilitarisation, he added. “In the 21st century we don’t see our friends in the south as enemies, we don’t see anyone in the world as an enemy.”
The 33 year old, said the Republic of Cyprus too has shortcomings on conscientious objection, having a review board that includes army officers instead of being comprised completely of civilians.
Karapiasiaoglou, who is a member of the initiative for conscientious objectors, said they are prepared to help and offer legal aid to anyone from anywhere on the island.
Of his trial, he said he would either go to prison or win the right to be an objector. If he is sentenced, he will appeal at the European Court of Human Rights.
“If tomorrow there is a war, we, as anti-militarists, will not fight,” he said. “Our grandfathers and fathers fought in the past, we will not make the same mistake. Our duty towards our country is peace. We have a right to be conscientious objectors. We are determined to continue our fight.”
The initiative has urged people to support Karapasiaoglou and attend a protest outside the ‘martial court’ at 1 pm on Thursday.