Bar association chairs are walking to the capital in protest of planned changes in the Attorneys’ Act.

Bar association chairs from various provinces have not been able to enter Ankara as the police have closed entrances to the capital. Ankara Bar Association members are also at the city’s entrance to welcome their colleagues.

Lawyers have been heading to Ankara since Friday (June 19) in protest of the government’s move to change the Attorneys’ Act. The planned amendments reportedly include allowing more than one bar association in a province and changes in the election system of the associations.

Some lawyers staged a sit-in protest against the police prevention.

“Democracy and law are suspended”

One of the lawyers waiting in front of the police barricades, Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Cihan Aydın told bianet that “Democracy and law are suspended.”

“As nearly 80 bar association chairs, we are waiting here with our robes. The police have set up a barricade. They say ‘pandemic’ as a reason, they say a permission was not acquired. Every time we ask, they tell us a different reason. A state of total lawlesness… We are not allowed to enter the city, however, this was one of the reasons that we wanted to march. Protecting citizens’ democratic rights is one of the bar associations’ duties but we have also become the victims of this ban,” he said.

Bar associations union chair visits Atatürk’s mausoleum

While bar association chairs were facing police barricades, Union of Bar Associations of Turkey (TBB) Chair Metin Feyzioğlu was in Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic. He visited the mausoleum with bar association chairs of Afyon, Ardahan, Iğdır, Ağrı, Konya, Elazığ, Sivas, Gümüşhane-Bayburt, Çorum, Yozgat, Kütahya, Edirne, Samsun, Erzurum, Maraş. Feyzioğlu posted a photo of the visit on Instagram.

What happened?

Ahead of the march, the bar associations took the following decisions:

An application will be made to the Union of Bar Associations (TBB) for an extraordinary meeting.

Bar association chairs will start a “Defense March” from their provinces to Ankara.

Citizens’ loss of rights that will occur in case the law proposal is enacted will be explained in a newspaper advertisement on June 21.

On the day the proposal is submitted to the parliamentary committee, a “standing still” protest will be held by bar association chairs on the road to the parliament.

Lawyers will work at the parliament for an appeal to the Constitutional Court if the law passes.

During the examination of the application by the Constitutional Court, lawyers will “stand duty.”

After Feyzioğlu  attended the opening ceremony of the judicial year at the Presidential Complex in September 2019, İstanbul Bar Association called for an extraordinary meeting of the union’s general assembly.

CLICK – Bar associations call for general assembly after judicial year opening at presidential complex

İstanbul Bar Association Chair Mehmet Durakoğlu had told bianet that Feyzioğlu had a “shift of axis” as his stance had significantly changed since his election as the TBB chair in 2017.

After İstanbul’s statement, the bar associations of Ankara, Antalya, Adana, İzmir, Bursa, Urfa, Van, Aydın, Van and Diyarbakır called the TBB for a general assembly with an election.

TBB Secretary-General Sabiha Tekin announced on October 28, 2019, that the decision that Antalya Bar Association sent to the union was “not taken into examination” by the union on the grounds that the condition of at least 10 bar associations’ request for a general assembly was not mate as of the date of the meeting of the executive boards of the TBB.

Bianet – 22.06.2020

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