The Road Less Traveled: Challenging Military Service

  • Ayse Gül Altinay


May 2001. We are in a café on the second floor of an old levantine building in Beyoglu, the cultural and political hub of Istanbul. There are about thirty-five people, mostly young, gathered to discuss “conscientious objection” in this small student-run café. I realize later that those who identify themselves as “anarchists” form the majority of the group, but there are also curious observers of various political inclinations. It is quite obvious that many people in the room already know each other. Despite the fact that this is a public event in a city of more than twelve million people, it feels like a closed meeting of friends. I feel more at home when I see a couple of familiar faces in the room. A feminist activist I know from years back is there as one of the core participants. She has become an antimilitarist anarchist supporting conscientious objection as a way of “disembodying the war machine.” Similarly, I come across someone I have not seen for more than ten years and start chatting. Finally, everyone finds a place to sit and the room is silent. We are gathered in this small café to observe and discuss 15 May, the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day.


Military Service Objector Movement Civil Disobedience Conscientious Objection Military Unit 
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© Ayse Gül Altinay 2004

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  • Ayse Gül Altinay

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