Duvar English

A key member of Turkey’s primary legal association resigned from his post after a call for an extraordinary general assembly made by 12 association members–including the branches of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir—was rejected by the administration.  

In a Tweet, Erkan Şenses – Union of Turkey Bar Association (TBB) Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) commission executive board member – said that after six years in his position, it was no longer possible to work within a commission under the current TBB leadership. 

Erkan Şenses

Antalya Bar Association President Polat Balkan told Duvar that TBB President Metin Feyzioğlu’s leadership, as well as that of the board members that made the decision to reject the extraordinary general assembly call, are no longer legitimate, referring to them as “occupiers.” 

Balkan explained that Feyzioğlu lost his legitimacy after staying silent following the cancellation of this year’s Istanbul mayor elections, where main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu narrowly defeated the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Binali Yıldırım. 

He also criticized Feyzioğlu’s refusal to raise his voice in opposition to the mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who were removed from their posts after being elected earlier this year. The government has targeted dozens of politicians from the HDP on the basis of terror charges, which critics have blasted as an effort by Erdoğan and the AKP to delegitimize the party. A number of important party figures, including former co-leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, have been jailed on terror charges. 

Balkan said that according to the association’s bylaws, if 10 bar members apply in writing for an extraordinary general assembly, the meeting can be held. In spite of 12 members applying, the call was rejected, which Balkan said was an unprecedented move in the 50-year history of the TBB.

Long known as a staunch secularist, CHP member and critic of Erdoğan and his AKP, in 2014 famously raised Erdoğan’s ire during a speech commemorating the anniversary of the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court. Erdoğan interrupted the long-winded speech and began to argue with Feyzioğlu, subsequently exiting the room in defiance. 

In recent years, however, Feyzioğlu has increasingly developed a stance in harmony with Erdoğan and the government, declining to criticize what opponents consider blatant violations of the rule of law and a total lack of independence in the judiciary.