IFOR denounces threats to C.O.s in Turkey and Russia

During the 38th session of the Human Rights Council IFOR delivered an oral statement addressed to the Human Rights Commissioner condemning the targeting of conscientious objectors in Turkey and Russia. IFOR maintains a connection to the Turkish Conscientious Objector’s Organization VR-DER Vicdani Ret Dernegi, through our partners, the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection, and War Resisters International. In 2016, VR-DER held an event in honour of those that have refused, on grounds of conscience, to be recruited into the armed forces,. This led to the co-Chair of the organisation being summoned to answer charges of “making propaganda for terror”. IFOR denounced this and similar aggression directed towards nonviolent movements by the Russian Federation.



Human Rights Council, 38th Session
19th June 2018
Agenda Item 2 – General Debate
Statement delivered by  Derek Brett
Contact:  derek.brett@ifor.org    (Main representative  in Geneva)     


High Commissioner

I wish to address issues in two of the States named in your report – Turkey and the Russian Federation.

You mentioned the visit in 2016 to Turkey of the SR on Freedom of Expression.  Sadly since that visit things have deteriorated,

15th May is internationally recognised as ”conscientious objectors day”.  Around the world, events are held in honour of those who have refused, on grounds of conscience, to be recruited into the armed forces.

Our Turkish associate VR-DER - Vicdani Ret Dernegi (Conscientious Objectors' Organisation) - held such an event in Diyakbakir in 2016.  Within the last month, the co-Chair of the organisation has therefore  been summoned to answer charges of “making propaganda for terror”.[1]

I remind you that non-violence is in fact the foundation stone of all the organisations in our network.

You mentioned also the crackdown on dissenting voices in the Russian Federation.  This impacts particularly on the Jehovah's Witnesses – known globally for their commitment to non-violence.[2]  That members of this faith should have been persecuted under anti.terrorism legislation is bizarre.  I would go farther – it is obscene.


[1]     VR-DER's press release may be accessed at http://ebco-beoc.org/node/434

[2]     See, for example, http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article´id=2385