Towards the service (Part I)

Posted by on March 14th, 2009
Stored in Erkan's habitus, Turkish military

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My dear readers,
In less than a month, I am joining the mandatory military service. Every male Turkish citizens has to do the service and it is time for me now. After finishing the dissertation I have no more excuses and I have to do that.

There are several unknownables in the process. It is sort of a public secret. All served people know something but no one can know what expects you there. There is a great deal of arbitrariness. I will write about my curiosities until I join the service and in the mean time, we can discuss about these…

First of all there is the Turkish Penal Code (TCK 318): "Alienating people from military service". If one discusses about the military service in Turkey, s/he should bear in mind that you can be sued because of this article. This is already an issue between Turkey and EU but relatively minor one compared to other articles. Honestly, I do not believe I might be subject to this article anyway, but still it exists there as a check point:)

One frequent metaphor that comes to my mind is prison. Your freedom to act like in your daily life is temporarily lifted. To what extent, I have no idea. Can I continue to read? How much I can read? Can I be online? Only in weekends? Will I have permission to have weekends off? I know that service men are given temporary leaves in weekends. But how much? You sexual life is stopped. It is not very active anyway but still you know that even masturbation is hard to perfom among tens of men you will live with. Will I have any privacy at all? Your eating and sleeping patterns are also controlled. You have to sleep with tens of other fellow service men in the barracks. My hobbies, like cinema or music will also be abrupted. My means of communication will also be limited and controlled to a large extent. And of course my scholarly studies will also be paused. I will lose my salary, and I may even lose my job….

However, these questions may partially be answered in the first days of April where I will attend a symbolic test in the recruitment center somewhere on the far end of Istanbul and it will be determined: a) whether I will serve for 5.5 months as a private or will serve 12 months as a sort of lietunant. If I become a private, which I want because it is shorter, I will certainly lose most of my freedoms and prison analogy will work just fine. If I serve for the longer term, it will be like a civil servant and I will probably have my nights and weekends back and i will also be paid. Still less than my salary but better than nothing. b) where I will serve. Anywhere in Turkey possible at the moment. c) as what I will serve. Which section of the Turkish army I will be in…

to be continued.


Turkish army posters for Women’s Day. "How happy is the Turkish woman who gave birth to Atatürk." Two more posters can be found here .


Defense spending and democracy

In Columnists

Feeding around 700,000 military personnel, the majority of whom are conscripts, in Turkey, where compulsory military service is in force, has long been a burden on the country’s economy.

Military and autocracy

In Columnists

Last week marked the 12th anniversary of the Feb. 28 military coup, which all began with an ultimatum given by the military during the National Security Council (MGK) meeting on that day in 1997.

  • Poor you.(
    Looks like some anachronisme to me: complusory militairy service. And if they declare you crazy, what will happen then?
    Kindest
    hans

  • ebru

    i know this experience sucks but i also think that it is a wonderful chance to reveal “what the heck is going inside the barracks.” it is time to know now. i even think that it is an area richer than media/eu /turkey connection.

  • Jan Claire

    Erkan,
    Congratulations on your military service. I am so thrilled that I got to serve most of mine in beautiful Turkey along the Marmara shores just east of Karamursel on the big “point” jutting out into the sea. From there, Istanbul was a decent ferry boat ride from Yalova, we could quickly boat over to Izmit/Kocaeli and drive around to Uskudar by cab, then – no bridge back then – we could ferry across to Istanbul.
    Military service is not always appreciated by those who are serving, but I can tell you from experience that the more valuable you make your work, the better you will enjoy your service. I always asked to be assigned to certain jobs – the things I knew best and liked best – and often that is exactly where I was assigned. Even the military will try to place people in areas in which they have an interest.
    One other thing: stay in touch, for your lifetime, with the friends you make in the military. They will prove to be your most valued lifelong friends.
    Cheers,
    Jan Claire
    http://www.janclaire.com
    http://www.merhabaturkey.com
    Facebook

  • Kathrine

    Erkan, I hope it will turn out ok with the military. I find it hard to imagine having to do service….I know in Denmark they still have the draft for men (not women, lucky me) and I think it is something that needs to go. If some people want to join the army, let them and the rest of us can get on with what we want to do.
    I can’t believe the university will not at least keep your job waiting for you…
    I will keep my fingers crossed for you and hope some fantastic way out will happen.
    Take care
    Kathrine

  • Claudia, from Canada.

    I hope you’ll still be able to communicate tru the internet, read, write and listen to music, at least on weekends. Hope it’s not too hard physically. What I see on American movies about military training is horrible. Please let us know. All the best.

  • Mitat Yerli

    I’d say go for the lieutenant position for 12 months as opposed to lesser time for less. The difference in quality of life will be well worth it and with your qualifications you’ll end up with a comfortable position anyway where you can have weekends, internet and salary, etc., and be treated like an officer . Things are pretty rough for privates. Besides, it will be the best experience in your life and you will be a better person for it.

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