Serkan Alan - Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR
A group of bar association heads and several lawyers gathered at Ankara courthouse on July 3 to file a criminal complaint against the governor's office for banning all demonstrations and protests in the province for 15 days.Ankara governor’s office bans demonstrations ahead of bar associations' planned 'Great Defense Meeting'
On June 30, lawyers announced that they would initiate a "Great Defense Meeting" in Ankara on July 3 in protest of the government’s plan to decentralize bar associations. However, the Ankara governor’s office announced on July 2 that it banned all demonstrations and protests for 15 days, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
On July 3, thousands of lawyers gathered in front of the Ankara courthouse, chanting slogans of “Do not touch my bar,” “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism” and “A split bar means lack of justice.”
The lawyers' protest was accompanied by several police officers present at the courthouse premises. The police conducted an identity check at the scene and allowed only lawyers to step on the courthouse premises.
Ankara bar association president Erinç Sağkan held a speech here, saying: “We'll never submit to the stick that the oppression regime takes from underneath the table.” “We are not staying silent, we are not afraid and we are not obeying.”
Lawyers then attempted to initiate a march to parliament, but faced tear gas from the police. During the police attack, some of the lawyers were seen having fallen on the ground. As the lawyers were prevented from marching further, they have this time staged a sit-in protest in front of the Ankara courthouse.
Police intervention targeted the lawyers in front of Ankara Courthouse. pic.twitter.com/6YB4LcL6D0— dokuz8NEWS (@dokuz8news) July 3, 2020
The police did not allow the lawyers to leave the courthouse garden at the same time and said they could leave one by one. In the face of this demand, lawyers shouted slogans of “Either all of us or none of us [will leave here]."
The police eventually conceded to the lawyers' request and approved them of leaving the courthouse premises all together.
Ankara police department compares lawyers to 'marginal groups'
Meanwhile, the Ankara police department released a statement concerning the lawyers' gathering in front of the courthouse, comparing them to “marginal groups” and saying that they will “file a lawsuit against the lawyers.”
The statement said the lawyers were told that their planned march from the courthouse to parliament would be “violating the law” and claimed it was instead the police who “faced attacks from the lawyers.”
“Although they know the legal legislation very well and despite all the good intention of our personnel, we will file a lawsuit at the public prosecutor's office about the lawyers who attacked our personnel in a way that is seen in marginal group's unauthorized demonstrations,” the statement read.
Bar association heads continue their vigil in front of parliament building, one journalist detained
Meanwhile, another group of bar association heads continued their vigil in the garden of Turkey's parliament on July 3, demanding to partake in the Justice Commission's discussions concerning the draft bill seeking to change the way how bar associations function.Bar association heads waiting outside parliament, demanding to be included in gov't bill discussions
Journalist named Sibel Hürtaş from Arti TV covering the bar association heads' gathering was detained by the police. She wrote on her Twitter that she was mistreated while being taken to the police station. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies who tried to prevent the police from detaining Hürtaş were similarly ill-treated.
Parliamentary commission declines lawyers' demand to take part in discussions on bar associations bill
Bu haberi izleme ısrarımın sonucu gözaltı ve kötü muamele— Sibel Hürtaş (@Sibelhurtas) July 3, 2020
Kavaklıdere Polis Karakolunda gözaltında tutuluyorum https://t.co/tqpYwnuIBm
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu talked with Hürtaş following her detention, who told him that the police “jumped down her throat and insulted” her on the way to the police station.
“What kind of a scandal is this? You do not take bar association heads in parliament and then on top of that you batter a journalist,” Gergerlioğlu said.
On July 2, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) group deputy chair Bülent Turan said that only three representatives among the bar association heads would be allowed to partake in the Justice Commission discussions.
He said that crowding should be "avoided" due to the coronavirus pandemic. Turan's suggestion was turned down by the bar association heads, who instead proposed that 20 of them visit the Commission but only three get the floor to speak.Gov't bill to decentralize bar associations set to be submitted to Parliament on June 30
As the negotiations failed, 20 bar association heads camped all night outside parliament.
Lawyers across Turkey have been for weeks now protesting against the government’s plan to reform bar associations, saying it aims to silence dissent and will lead to politicisation of their profession.
Under a draft law presented the Justice Commission of parliament on June 30 by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s 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.
Discussions for the draft bill kicked off in the Justice Commission on July 2. Afterwards, it will be brought to the agenda of the General Assembly of parliament for a voting process. The draft bill is likely to pass as the AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) maintain a parliamentary majority.