Members of almost 60 bar associations entered Ankara on June 23 after a day of being jostled by police that tried to block them from marching into the capital city in protest against legal amendments sought to curb their representations.
The lawyers had held sit-ins and protests throughout the night and the morning into June 23 after they were blocked by police when wanting to enter Ankara.
Following discussions with the Interior Ministry, bar associations were able to reach Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The bar chairs aim to convey their demands to the Turkish
The chair of the Bar Associations of Turkey, Metin Feyzioğlu, İYİ (Good) Party chair Meral Akşener, and Ankara Metropolitan Mayor Mansur Yavaş visited the chairs of the bar associations and attorneys at the sit-in on June 23.
The bar chairs protested Feyzioğlu by turning their backs and saying, “Where were you yesterday?”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers also showed solidarity by visiting the lawyers.
The presidents of bar associations and attorneys departed for Ankara from various provinces on June 19 to demonstrate against a planned amendment by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the Law of Attorney.
In the statement made by Ankara Police Department on June 22, it was stated that the route that the bar associations wanted to walk was not in permitted places and the walk was blocked also due to coronavirus precautions.
The AKP is working on the draft bill to change the structures and regulations of professional chambers, primarily for bar associations, which will make major changes in their election systems.
The amendment came to the fore in Turkey after a statement made by the Ankara Bar Association in May, in which it criticized the chair of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, for his remarks on homosexuality.
Opposition parties show support for lawyers, bar associations
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and İYİ Party chair Akşener have welcomed a march staged by bar associations against legal amendments regarding their powers.
Speaking at his party’s group meeting in parliament on June 23, Kılıçdaroğlu lambasted the police for trying to block the march of the bar associations on June 22.
“The day will come when you too will need a lawyer,” he said.
“As long as the constitution is perfectly open, they all have the right to walk unarmed and without any [police] attack,” he said.
The CHP leader’s criticism comes after amendments planned by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the Law of Attorney which aims to establish separate bars for attorneys in provinces.
Kılıçdaroğlu stressed the bar associations are legal entities and said there can only be one bar association in a single province. “Just as how there can be only one central bank in a state or a district can have only one governor,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the AKP for taking the judiciary and prosecutors under its control and said, “Now it’s time to take control of the defense. They would enact laws for this. They would break the bar associations. Do you not have anything else to do? Bar associations in the constitution are public legal entities,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the position of chair of the Bar Associations of Turkey, Metin Feyzioğlu, on the issue. “The events that shook me deeply is the attitude of the chair of Bar Associations of Turkey towards this incident,” he stated.
Also speaking in parliament on June 23, Akşener thanked the bar associations for their march and said, “I would like to thank our bar associations and attorneys who did not leave the line of democracy despite a deliberate provocation.”