Turkish police early on March 12 detained nine lawyers in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa, as part of an investigation launched by the Şanlıurfa Public Prosecutor's Office.
The prosecutor's office issued a detention warrant for four lawyers registered in the Diyarbakır Bar Association, leading to the police raiding the lawyers' houses and workplaces. Two lawyers were detained as a result of the raids.
DiyarbakırBar Association's head Cihan Aydın said that the investigation wasrelated to the lawyers' meetings with their clients at prisons. “Wewill make a statement when we get hold of detailed informationregarding the reasons of the detentions,” Aydın said.
The Diyarbakır Bar Association released a statement saying that prosecutors had issued a “confidentiality” order on the investigation and that this situation “restricts” access to information as to the nature of charges against the lawyers. “This decision of restriction by itself shows that the investigation is built on unlawfulness,” said the statement.
The Diyarbakır Bar Association said that the detention of the lawyers in a morning raid, without even previously calling them in for testimony, is “unacceptable” and is an attempt of the authorities to give the image that “a criminal operation” is being undertaken.
“An attack on lawyers means an attack on democratic values,” said the association, calling on the authorities to release the lawyers as as soon as possible.
Şanlurfa Bar Association's head Abdullah Öncel, on the other hand, said seven lawyers in total were detained in the province. He similarly said that a “confidentiality” order had been issued on the investigation.
The Şanlıurfa Bar Association's Human Rights Center held an extraordinary meeting regarding the detentions on March 12. In a statement released to the public, the center said the police had also detained lawyers from the Diyarbakır Bar Association.
The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) also released a statement, saying: “Defense cannot be silenced.”
“Many of our colleagues in Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa, some of whom are our association's members, were detained early this morning. Oppression against our profession is increasing, and we reiterate once again 'Defense cannot be silenced.' Our colleagues should be released immediately,” the ÖHD said in a statement on its social media account.