Some 58 bar associations, who were marching from their provinces against the planned legislative amendment, reached Ankara on June 22. The bar associations launched a sit-in after the police did not allow them to enter Ankara over a ban by the governorate of the capital.
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.
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.
Making a statement in Ankara on June 22, President of Muğla Bar Association Cumhur Uzun said that the amendment to be made on the Law of Attorney will affect the 80 million citizens of the country.
“They prevented our constitutional and legal right, that is, entering Ankara. In the face of this situation, it turned out how meaningful our departure was. The lawyers representing the bar associations were not allowed to Ankara despite their constitutional rights,” he said.
Metin Feyzioğlu, the head of the Turkish Bar Association, met with Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop on June 22 over the march intervened by the police. In a statement after the meeting, Feyzioğlu said he was trying to pave the way for the march, as the bar associations have right to do so. Elaborating on the amendment, Feyzioğlu said they will submit their opinion once the draft bill is shaped.
The amendment came up to the agenda of Turkey after a statement made by the Ankara Bar Association in May, criticizing the chair of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, for his remarks on homosexuality.
“Let the boards of the chambers and organizations be determined on the ‘relative’ basis, not on the basis of ‘majority,’ let there be participation and pluralism,” Hayati Yazıcı, the AKP’s deputy chair responsible for political and legal affairs, said shortly after the Ankara prosecutors’ office launched an investigation launched against Ankara Bar Association in May.
Minister criticizes bar heads
In an interview with the private broadcaster Kanal 24, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül rejected the claims by the bar associations that the government’s drafted law will undermine the right of defense.
“We never endorse any work that would deteriorate the right of defense. Our friends are working on a draft that would move forward the right of defense, increase the protection of the attorneys and strengthen the professional organizations,” Gül said.
Gül criticized the bar associations for not bringing about their own proposals on the amendments and opposing the government’s work although there is no concrete draft.
“We have always listened to the bar associations and carried out an open door dialogue,” he added.