The Interior Ministry has allowed bar heads to continue their march to the capital Ankara following a 27-hour-long stand-off.
They began marching at around 12:30 p.m. and ended it some half an hour later. They visited Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The bar heads didn’t let Union of Turkish Bar Associations head Metin Feyzioğlu march with them following his lack of support to the protests.
Bar association heads had been waiting outside for hours after police on June 22 prevented them from entering the capital Ankara to end their Defense March, as footage showed brawls.
They wanted to enter Ankara as part of their march that they launched on June 19 against increasing pressure from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The move came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP intensified its efforts to amend the law on changing bar associations’ election systems in what critics say an effort to increase the number of pro-government figures in bars.
Bar heads shared videos and pictures throughout the night on June 23, saying that police seized raincoats and food sent to them. They also said that police ordered nearby restaurants and cafes to shut down to prevent bar heads from using their restrooms.
Antalya Bar head Polat Balkan shared a picture of himself wearing layers of clothing since police seized blankets sent to them.
“You can’t break our resistance,” Balkan said on June 23.
Aydın Bar head Gökhan Bozkurt said that police prevented them from getting chairs and using bathrooms.
Following the incidents, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş sent in raincoats and food, which were delivered to the bar heads.
Lawyers from Ankara Bar headed to the area to show support to the bar heads, but were battered by police.
Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) Ankara branch co-chair Şevin Kaya was kicked on the ground by police.
Reporters were also prevented from recording footage near the scene.
Police set up barricades throughout the night against the bar heads.
In the morning, Bozkurt shared footage of Bilecik deputy bar head being battered by police.
“There is no law in Ankara! Even the press is not allowed,” Bozkurt said.
Strikingly, to prevent passersby from supporting the bar heads, police lined up buses in front of the barricades.
Mardin Bar head İsmail Elik shared pictures of the bar heads sleeping on the ground.
According to Antep Bar head Bektaş Şarklı, police entered the area that they’re keeping bar heads in at around 2:30 a.m. to check whether they are wearing masks.
In Istanbul, lawyers launched a sit-in in front of the Istanbul Bar to urge Feyzioğlu to resign.
Feyzioğlu on June 23 responded to criticisms, saying, “This issue is not about me and there is nothing that would necessitate my resignation.”
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, meanwhile, said that there is no draft bill at the moment, asking “What are you opposing?”
He also said that changes that would “strengthen the profession of defense” are underway.
On June 23, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş condemned police prevention of bar heads, saying that he stands with them as a lawyer.
Also on June 23, Feyzioğlu attempted to visit bar heads where they’re kept waiting, but was blocked by bar heads from entering.
Bar heads were seen lining up in front of the bar head, while asking, “Where were you yesterday?”