Conscription in Turkey
In Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, compulsory military service applies to all male citizens from twenty to forty one years of age. Those who are engaged in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military drafting are allowed to delay service until they have completed the programs or reach a certain age. The duration of the basic military service varies. As of July 2003, the reduced durations are as follows: for those without 4 year university degrees fifteen months as privates; for those with 4 year university degrees or higher either twelve months as reserve officers or six months as short-term privates.

For Turkish citizens who have worked outside Turkey for at least three consecutive years, on condition that they pay a certain fee (currently 5,112 EUR), a basic military training option of twenty-one days (previously twenty-eight days) is offered instead of the full-term military service of 15 months.

According to a new draft law, a Turkish parliamentary commission has proposed on Nov. 24, 2011 exemption from mandatory military service if the person is over 30 years old and pays 30,000 Turkish liras.

The same draft law is asking individuals living abroad to contribute EU 10,000

The Turkish military openly discriminates against homosexuals
Sexual orientation and military service
The military forces of the world have differing approaches to the enlistment of homosexual and bisexual individuals. The armed forces of most developed countries have now removed policies excluding non-heterosexual individuals...

 and bisexuals by barring them from serving in the military. At the same time, Turkey - in violation of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 - withholds any recognition of conscientious objection to military service. Some objectors must instead identify themselves as “sick” – and are forced to undergo what Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 calls "humiliating and degrading" examinations to “prove” their homosexuality.

Women are not conscripted. However, they are permitted to become officers.

Debates about equal service

Yusuf Ziya Özcan, president of YÖK
*Sai Yok* see Yok-Utian languages*Yok weaving technique, see Thai-style dresses*Yok, a Turkish copula, negation of "to be"*YÖK , an abbreviation for the Commission for Higher Education, Turkey...

, announced in March 2008 military service duration would be equal for everyone, holding or not holding a degree would not matter. İlker Başbuğ, then president of Turkish Armed Forces
Turkish Armed Forces
The Turkish Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of Turkey. They consist of the Army, the Navy , and the Air Force...

, said that short term military service and reserve officers system would be abandoned. In this system he proposed, everybody would spend 12 or 15 months in conscription. Instead of reserve officers, officers would be contracted. In October 2010, instead of the system proposed before, shortening the duration of military service is proposed. In this proposition, short-term privates would spend 4 months and other people would spend 9 months in conscription. Conscripted 250000 people would be released early. TSK, refused this system claiming it would create a shortage of soldiers. However, some people argue conscripts are forced to work for officers' private needs. This includes driving, cooking and serving meals in officers' clubs, teaching to officers' children. Some of the conscripts are made officers' personal assistant. Number of these conscripts are estimated to be 241000.

Attitude towards conscription, the army and conscripts (draftees)

Voicing opinions against the draft is considered a social stigma
Social stigma
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms...

 in Turkey, and certain provisions in the Turkish Penal Code, such as Article 301
Article 301 (Turkish penal code)
Article 301 is a controversial article of the Turkish Penal Code making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions...

, are often used to prosecute those who make voice such opinions. By law, it is a punishable offense to speak publicly against the army or conscription, as it's a crime to "undermine Turkish people's zeal towards military" and a separate crime to "insult the spirit of the Armed Forces".

Most companies require men to have completed their military service before their job candidacies can be accepted,and traditionally families do not consent to their daughters marrying men who have not served their terms. The reason behind this requirement is irregular loss of workforce; the companies are legally bound to discharge draft evaders or face legal consequences, however valuable an asset these people are.

It is common opinion that having completed military service carries a symbolic value to the majority of Turks. It is commonly regarded as a rite of passage to manhood, and most men grow up with the anticipation of serving out their time. On the other hand, it is held to be one of the main reasons behind the brain drain
Brain drain
Human capital flight, more commonly referred to as "brain drain", is the large-scale emigration of a large group of individuals with technical skills or knowledge. The reasons usually include two aspects which respectively come from countries and individuals...

 prevalent among the well-educated young professionals.

An argument used for the defense of conscription is that it serves to intermingle otherwise stratified society. It is believed that, going through the same hardships can implement a common ground amongst otherwise diverse groups, and interconnect them.

Conscientious objection

Refusing the obligatory military service due to conscientious objection is illegal in Turkey, and punishable with imprisonment by law as upon reaching the legal age, a citizen automatically becomes enlisted and subject to military law. Such acts are deemed "insubordination to military officers" and carry up to 2 years of military imprisonment for each offence (in Turkey, civilians can be tried at military courts). Upon release, the offender often receives new call-up papers, and if he refuses, is sent back to serve another sentence.
Notable objectors: Mehmet Tarhan
Mehmet Tarhan
Mehmet Tarhan was imprisoned for refusing military service in Turkey as a conscientious objector. Tarhan had been sentenced to four years in a military prison for disobedience after refusing to wear a military uniform, a sentence that is evidently the longest ever given for such an offense in Turkey...

, Osman Murat Ülke
Osman Murat Ulke
Osman Murat Ulke is a Turkish conscientious objector. He was imprisoned for two and a half years for refusal of military service, and was the subject of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.-History of the case:...


Further reading

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