Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

Istanbul Bar Association head Mehmet Durakoğlu has said that the capital Ankara has become a separate police state, as he commented on the prevention of their Defense March.

“When we arrived in Ankara, we saw that it has become a police state. Can you think of such a police force? That place has become a separate police republic,” Durakoğlu said on June 23.

Some 60 bar heads launched a Defense March 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.

They were prevented from entering Ankara upon arrival and met with police barricades. Several lawyers were also battered by police.

The bar heads were also encircled by police and made to wait for 27 hours outside and under heavy rain before the Interior Ministry allowed them to continue their march.

Durakoğlu addressed lawyers in front of the bar in Taksim upon leaving Ankara, saying “Everyone should know that they can’t silence the defense.”

“We said, ‘We’ll march here’ and we did. They want to silence us. We are lawyers and will be needed by everyone one day,” Durakoğlu said.