Bar heads sit up all night under police blockade


ANKARA – Lawyers staged a sit-in protest last night until the morning after their entrance in the parliament was blocked as they wanted to partake in the discussions regarding the bill that would allow Turkey’s bar associations to be decentralized and split into smaller groups.

Discussions over the draft bill seeking to change the election system of bars’ administrations and open the way to the establishment of alternative associations in each province have been kicked off in the Parliamentary Justice Commission on July 2. The bar heads arrived in Ankara to attend the discussions, However Parliamentary commission declined the bar head’s and lawyers’ demand to partake in discussions on bar associations bill.
Following the rejection of the Jurice Commission, twenty bar association heads have started to wait outside the Parliament building, demanding to partake in Justice Commission discussions over the draft bill. The police encircled the area with safety strips, where bar association heads were waiting. The bar heads sit up all night under the police blockade confining them to an area of less than 20 square meters. 
Police allows only the staff to enter the Turkish Parliament, as they block the entrance of the journalists in the area and fend off the journalists behind the police barriers trying to record the bar heads sit-in. Police do not allow the parliament reporters to talk with the bar heads as well. 
The bar heads state that they want to partake in the Justice Commission discussions over the draft bill on bars as they demand 5 bar heads to take the stand for 15 minutes of talk each and a delegate representing the bar heads to be present in the session until the negotiations are over. However these demands of the bar heads have not accepted yet. 
The Ankara Governor’s Office on July 2 banned all demonstrations and protests in Ankara for 15 days addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as the grounds for that. Doğan Erkan, a member of board of Ankara Bar, stated that the bars are decided to organize their meeting despite the ban and  called for participation to their central demonstration, named “Great Defens Metting” they have announced for July 3 to be held in the Anıtpark, Ankara at 16:00:
 “All the lawyers should say no to this bill. Because the bars are decentralized and split via this bill. The government, who labels all the opponents as ‘separatist’ is the one who separates and divides all the social institutions. The bars will use their right of peaceful march declared by the 34th article of the Constitution. Any attempts to block this march will be the violation of the constitution. It will be a professional misconduct. If they try to intervene unjustly, every barricade will be a zone of resistance. If the government violates the Constitution by using the law enforcement as their political power, then the lawyers will not hesitate to use their right to resist.”
Lawyers across Turkey have been protesting against the government’s plan to reform bar associations, saying it aims to silence dissent and will lead to politicization of their profession following the President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks that his party's deputies would submit a proposal to change the law on bar associations.

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