Lawyers, bar association heads spend night in Ankara in deadlock with police

Bar association heads who marched to the capital Ankara to protest a judicial decentralization bill spent the night in a deadlock with the police who has the presidents' sit-in surrounded by a barricade. As lawyers outside the park wanted to join the bar association heads, police banned both entries to and exits from the park.

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Ankara police form barricades around bar association heads protesting bill on multiple barsAnkara police form barricades around bar association heads protesting bill on multiple bars

Lawyers and bar association heads who are doing a sit-in in the capital spent the night of July 9 in a deadlock with police, as officers formed a barricade isolating the protesters in downtown Kuğulu park from the crowd of lawyers outside who wanted to join.

Police barricaded Ankara's downtown Kuğulu Park on July 9 as bar associations who marched to the capital started a sit-in at the park in protest of a bill in parliament that would allow the foundation of multiple bar associations per province, which legal professionals say would weaken their power.

Presented to the Parliamentary Justice Commission by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), deliberations on the new bill started without the participation of bar association heads and despite the protest signatories of 80 of them.

Upon the Ankara Bar Association's call to action to all lawyers, urging them to join the sit-in at Kuğulu Park, police barricaded the area and blocked entrances, causing a large crowd of lawyers to form outside the park.

When the bar association heads inside the park wanted to leave and join the crowd outside, police blocked exits from the park as well.

As the lawyers and bar association heads found themselves able to unite on either side of the police barricade, they started singing in unison across the divide.

Head of the Sakarya Bar Association Abdurrahim Burak shared a video of the crowds singing a song called "Güzel Günler Göreceğiz," meaning "we will see good days" in Turkish.

A composition to legendary Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet, the song's lyrics address children, assuring them that sunny and happy days will come.

Burak also used hashtags that said "defense to Ankara," referring to the "Defense March" that bar association heads from around the country lead to the capital Ankara, and a hashtag that reads "no to multiple bars."

A surprise invitation to parliament

Later in the day, Parliamentary Speaker Mustafa Şentop reportedly sent news to the bar association heads at the sit-in, inviting them to watch the debate on the bill in parliament's general session.

Only Kırşehir Bar Association Head Mehtap Karaburçak and Sinop Bar Association Head Hicran Kandemir accepted the invitation to parliament, while other bar association heads remained in the park.

Board member to Izmir Bar Association Mehmet Baran Selanik shared a photo of Izmir Bar Head Özkan Yücel asleep on a playground slide in Kuğulu Park.

"He's been resisting in Ankara for weeks for his colleagues and the rights of the people," Selanik tweeted along with the photo.

Mardin Bar Association Head Ismail Elik also shared a photo of Gaziantep Bar Association Head Bektaş Şarklı "taking a small break" on a playground slide.

A funeral in parliament

Meanwhile, some bar association heads slammed the head of The Turkish Union of Bar Associations (TBB), Metin Feyzioğlu for attending parliament to watch the general session's debate on the bill.

"Bar association heads are under siege and lawyers won't be let in to join them. The press has been evacuated... The union head is taking sides in the funeral. You know right?" Izmir Bar Association Head Yücel said, along with a photo of a lonely Feyzioğlu watching the debate.

TBB Chair Feyzioğlu was heavily criticized by his colleagues for not taking a harsher stance against the decentralization bill early on in the bill's lifetime.

Aydın Bar Association Head Gökhan Bozkurt shared a photo of Feyzioğlu watching the debate, saying he was watching "his own work."