Ankara governor’s office bans demonstrations ahead of bar associations' planned 'Great Defense Meeting'
The Ankara governor’s office on July 2 banned all demonstrations and protests in the province for two weeks, citing the fight against the novel coronavirus. The ban came just a day before lawyers' planned “Great Defense Meeting” in the province in defiance of the government's plan to decentralize bar associations.
The Ankara governor's office on July 2 banned all demonstrations and protests for 15 days as thousands of lawyers from 80 bar associations across Turkey were getting ready to meet in the province for the “Great Defense Meeting.”Parliamentary commission declines lawyers' demand to take part in discussions on bar associations bill
Bar association presidents had on June 30 announced that they would initiate a rally in Ankara on July 3 in an attempt to protest the government's plan to change the election system of bars’ administrations and open the way to the establishment of alternative associations in each province.
The Ankara governor's office sent a notice to the Ankara bar association saying that their demand to stage a protest on July 3 was not approved due to the new ban decision.
Ankarabar association president Erinç Sağkan told ANKA news agency thatthe governor's office took this decision due to their planned “GreatDefense Meeting.”
Sağkan said that they had taken the opinion of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee before planning their rally. “I am having a difficult time in believing in the plausibility of the pandemic as the reason [of the ban]. I am of the opinion that it is an excuse to stop us from staging a demonstration in Ankara tomorrow,” he said.Gov't bill to decentralize bar associations set to be submitted to Parliament on June 30
Sağkansaid that the move of the Ankara governor's office shows how much“Turkey is under a serious oppression regime.”
“Our constitutional rights are under a very serious threat...We have guaranteed that we would comply with the pandemic measures such as social distancing and wearing masks declared by the [Health] Ministry and [Coronavirus] Science Committee. Despite this, the postponement of such a meeting, rally for 15 days under the pretense of the pandemic is against the Constitution,” he said.
Lawyersacross Turkey have been for weeks now protesting against thegovernment’s plan to reform bar associations, saying it aims tosilence dissent and will lead to politicisation of their profession.
Under a draft law presented to the Parliament’s Justice Commission on June 30 by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), multiple bar associations could be formed in each of Turkey’s provinces. Only one is currently allowed per province. The bar associations say that the new legislation is an attempt to divide, scatter and control them.Turkish bar associations plan rally in opposition to gov't 'divide and conquer' strategy
Discussionsfor the draft bill kicked off in the Parliamentary Justice Commissionon July 2. Afterwards, it will be brought to the agenda of theParliament’s General Assembly for a voting process. The draft billis likely to pass as the AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party(MHP) maintain a parliamentary majority.
Bar associations have been slamming the government for not including them in the preparation process of the relevant draft bill. They have previously suggested the establishment of a commission with the participation of experts, academics and representatives of local bar associations that would guide the AKP in reforming the law.
The government however turned a deaf ear to their demands, and has recently declined their request to partake in the Parliamentary Justice Commission’s discussions.