Turkish Bar Associations fight back

The Turkish Bar Associations stand firm against attacks on their independence

Last week the main agenda across Turkey was the Government’s plan to change the way that the Turkish Bar Associations are organised and their electoral system. The Bar Association’s believe that the legal changes proposed would make the Bar Associations undemocratic and would result in them losing their independence from the government.

The Bar Associations, outraged about the proposed legal changes, organised a series of protests and events to protest the planned changes. The events culminated in a “Defense March” in which the presidents of the most progressive local bar associations, representing a large majority of lawyers in Turkey, marched to the capital Ankara.

When the Bar Association presidents arrived in Ankara to voice their demands and raise awareness of their protest, they were prevented from entering the Capital and were not allowed to continue their march. They were arbitrarily kept waiting at the border of Ankara for almost 27 hours, and were effectively detained without access to basic facilities during this time in contravention of the law.

Despite this the presidents of the Bar Association made clear that preventing their protest is illegal and were determined to enter the Capital. The prevention of this demonstration by the Bar Association presidents led to almost all other Bar Association presidents to participate in the struggle and increased public awareness and support. As a result, the Bar Association protests became a symbol against the arbitrary use of power by the Government.

Following public outcry, after 27 hours, the Government were forced to allow the Bar Association Presidents into Ankara and continue their demonstration.

The Bar Associations are considered one of the biggest obstacles to the establishment of a one-man regime and the government had hoped that it could force the lawyers into submission. This is because the Bar Associations are rarely aligned with Erdogan’s regime, and he wishes to change this so that the Bar Associations are under his control. That these attacks on lawyers in Turkey have resulted in such organised resistance has shown that the government’s tactics have backfired.

The measures taken to stop the Bar Associations protest shows that even lawyers are faced with illegal oppression by the government when exercising their democratic right to protest. The experience of the Bar Association’s Defence March shows that even the most basic democratic principles, such as the right to freedom of expression and protest are are not protected in Turkey.

On the other hand, the success of the Bar Association protest in terms of both accessing Ankara and completing their march, has been a significant boost of morale for democratic organisations. However, Erdogan and the Government is using all means at their disposal, including arbitrary use of power and actions in breach of the law to suppress the freedom of the Turkish Bar Association. This struggle will no doubt escalate in the coming months.

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Attacks on democratic opposition escalates and municipalities are prevented from supporting residents impacted by Covid-19



You can read the full statement here:  SPOT Turkey Update – June 2020



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Public letter from international press organisations: Lift embargo on newspapers, stop penalties

20 international and local media freedom groups sent a joint public letter to the General Director of Turkey’s Public Advertising Agency, Rıdvan Duran, regarding the suspension of public ad bans imposed on the newspapers.

The International Press Institute (IPI) and 19 other international press freedom and freedom of expression groups sent a joint public letter to the General Director of Turkey’s Public Advertising Agency, which is responsible for the fair distribution of public ads in national and local newspapers. Public ads provide considerable ad revenue for newspapers and are therefore essential for the survival of their print editions.

In the letter, press freedom groups underlined the increasing trend of the number of public ad bans on newspapers under “press ethics violations” issued by BIK in 2020 compared to last year. The letter stated that in the first five months of 2020 alone, BIK issued bans on 39 national and local newspapers totaling 316 days. By comparison, between January and September 2019, BIK issued bans on only six newspapers totaling nine days. The groups raised concerns about the justification for this increase in ad bans and called on BIK to make reports on the distribution of public money and the statistics of advertising bans on newspapers public.

An IPI-led delegation previously met with BIK General Director Duran on February 6, calling for an end to the indefinite ad bans on independent newspapers. Several independent newspapers have recently been hit with bans, including Evrensel, BirGün, Cumhuriyet and Sözcü.

The letter was signed by Articolo 21, Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Danish PEN,
English PEN, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), erman PEN, Index on Censorship, International Press Institute (IPI), Norwegian PEN, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, PEN America, PEN Canada, PEN International, PEN Turkey, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), Swedish PEN, WAN-IFRA.

You can read the full letter here.


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Human rights defenders react to the police violence in Turkey

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Chairwoman Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Human Rights Association (İHD) Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan evaluated the police violence cases for Evrensel.

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) Chairwoman Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Human Rights Association (İHD) Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan reacted to the incidents of police violence from various parts of the country. Over the past few days, videos posted on social media showed police officers beating citizens in İstanbul (Kadıköy, Sultangazi, Eyüp, Zeytinburnu), Tekirdağ (Çorlu), Edirne (Keşan), Ankara (Etimesgut), Mardin (Nusaybin), Şırnak (Cizre) and Adana.

Fincancı said that when the Minister of the Interior, Süleyman Soylu has a similar attitude and sees the right to insult the citizens who pay their salaries from their taxes. These insults have no consequences but are legitimized when citizens are convicted for exercising their right to criticize, thereby justifying authoritarianism. Those that are violently detained have investigations against them on the grounds of resisting police which is a widespread form or intimidation.

Stating that these events occurred because those who authorized the police did not apply the brakes, Türkdoğan said, “There is a state of unconstitutionality, not an authority. The Speaker of the Assembly, the Minister of the Interior should make a statement saying, “The police cannot do this,” but we do not hear this.  Someone has to say stop to the police”.


TİHV Chairwoman Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı evaluated the violent images to Evrensel.

Fincancı said, “I think that the police practices in Istanbul Kadıköy, which started with Çorlu, are important in terms of showing how the law enforcement officers perceive their relations with the citizens, and that the information about the violation of the curfew according to the statement in Çorlu is just as important. Outbreak conditions; Unfortunately, allowed the authority, which started with voluntary abandonment of rights, to become widespread, and thus to legitimize authoritarianism.”

“The informer understanding which is a growing trend in society along with the discourse hostility of politics should not be forgotten. The police violence starting in front of the garden door with no lead to the street, witnessed and recorded by another citizen as a hopeful action, is met with threat and verbal intervention which is regarded as a consequence of the impunity of law enforcement violence in Turkey”. Said Fincancı and continued as follows:

“It is also a common intimidation practice to open an investigation against those that are detained on the grounds that they resisted the police. In the İHD (Human Rights Association) 2019 report, the number of investigations opened against resistance to the police is over 163 thousand. This figure shows that 1 in every 500 citizens have resisted the police when in fact the reality is the unjust detentions and police violence, met with legitimate resistance from people. It is the aim to prevent such lawsuits as a means of intimidation”.

Recalling the violence in Kadıköy, Fincancı said, “While a police officer was shouting at a citizen and saying ‘because I made that decision’, he is acting above law imposed on him and he should know this, however,  the Minister of the Interior himself had a similar attitude towards citizens that pay his salary through their taxes. When they find the right to insult the citizens, these insults are legitimized through judicial convictions which take away the right for people to criticize. It seems that there is a need to rethink citizen and bureaucracy, to establish institutional relations in place … ”.


İHD Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan said, “The main reason behind the police violence in Çorlu is this: Police say, “I am the state”. Nobody that receives a salary from the state can say this. He President cannot either because he has limited powers. The primary duty of the police is to protect the life safety of the citizen. However, if the police endanger the life safety of the citizen, there is illegalness here”.

However, Türkdoğan stated that these incidents occurred because those who authorized the police did not hit the brakes. The Speaker of the Assembly, the Minister of the Interior should make a statement saying, ‘The police cannot do this’, but we do not hear about it. Someone has to say stop to the police”.

In addition, Türkdoğan pointed out that the curfew could be taken as a state of emergency and quarantine, and that the government did not do both. However, Türkdoğan stated that there are districts and villages in which quarantine decisions were made and said that the curfew decisions were based on the authority of the governorships and therefore there was already a legal problem.

Stating that citizens have already complied with the measures taken by the government, Türkdoğan said, “Therefore, there is no need for detective measures. Despite this, perhaps more than a hundred thousand people were fined fees. These penalties need to be forgiven because you have made a decision with a legality problem to people. In addition, you have to warn people who do not comply with the curfew once, and give fines when they repeat”.

Translated by Dilan SEÇGİN

Source: Evrensel Daily

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The leaders of the ’68 youth movement were commemorated on the 48th anniversary of their executions

The leaders of the ’68 youth movement Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan, Hüseyin İnan were commemorated on the 48th anniversary of their executions.

People’s Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO) and the leaders of the youth movement of ’68, Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin Inan were executed by the junta on March 12. They were commemorated by their graves on the 48th anniversary of their death. The Karşıyaka Cemetery, where thousands of people flock every year, has witnessed the memorials made with representative participation and physical contact rules due to the coronavirus outbreak this year.

However, it was observed that many people came to visit Deniz and friends individually as of the morning hours. Political parties and youth organizations made commemoration with limited participation. Members of the Labour Party (EMEP) and the Labour Youth (Emek Gençliği) met at 12:00 at the Karşıyaka cemetery gate with limited participation. From here, by paying attention to the physical contact rules, slogans of “Long live revolution and socialism” were chanted. After the carnations were left on the graves of Deniz and friends, speeches were made.


Speaking on behalf of Emek Youth by the grave of Deniz and friends, Meri Kelleci said, “We know very well that what is happening today are not just problems related to the pandemic! The imperialism, which Deniz and friends strived to destroy, has today become unable to carry itself. The system that hung Deniz and friends has continued to kill a young 20-year-old who had no choice but to work”.


Stating that although imperialism continues to hold the people responsible for their own dilemmas, they have learned how to fight against it from Deniz and friends, Kelleci added that today they have not only commemorated them, but have also increased their struggle. Remembering Deniz and friends, means being amongst the ranks of the working people against the capitalist looting, and amongst the ranks of international solidarity against imperialist barbarism. Kelleci added ‘Commemorating Deniz and friends is to oppose capitalism and the pandemic for the growth socialism’.


Labour Party (Emek Partisi) Chairman Selma Gürkan said that they reminiscent of Deniz Gezmiş Yusuf Aslan, Hüseyin İnan and their lawyer Halit Çelenk by growing their values. Indicating that the understanding that sent Deniz and friends to the execution table is still in power today, Gürkan stated that those who grew the economy through the exploitation of labourers and at the cost of their lives, turned the exploitation wheel for the sake of monopolies during the pandemic.


Gürkan, “We saw in the pandemic process that if workers and labourers do not produce and provide services life stops. Those who stop this life are also candidates for rebuilding life. Those who deem the 6th Fleet in Qibla and those who prostrate to the 6th Fleet in Dolmabahçe continue their power for the interests of monopolies.”


Noting that the Treasury and Finance Minister will hold a closed meeting with the international investment companies in the evening, Gürkan said, “What is this meeting? What resources of the country will be negotiated to monopolize monopolies? Are they going to negotiate to put the working class labour at the disposal of monopolies which they think weakened or silenced during the pandemic process?”. Expressing that this is undoubtedly the framework of the meeting, Gürkan said that how to put the resources of the country under the command of monopolies will be discussed.


Stating that they promised Deniz and friends, Gürkan continued her speech as follows:

“Freedom, not oppression, public sovereignty and power of the people, not a single man. We say this against the system of exploitation and plunder; long live socialism. Long live the fully independent Turkey. Long live peoples’ brotherhood and peace. We know that one day, the ideals of the Deniz and friends, socialism and popular power will win”.

After the commemoration held at the grave of the Deniz and friends, the grave of their lawyer Halit Çelenk were visited and carnations were left.


Despite the pandemic conditions, the memorial in Istanbul for Deniz and friends was held in Dolmabahçe, where they pushed the 6th Fleet into the sea. “We will keep our promise to the Deniz and friends, we will enlarge our struggle for independence, democracy and socialism, and destroy the order of those who execute them”.

The commemoration event started with a moment of silence.

In the commemoration of the slogan of “Yusuf, Hüseyin, Deniz; our struggle to continue”, “Imperialists, collaborators, don’t forget the 6th Fleet”, “From Deniz and friends those amongst the ranks of youth labour”, “Youth are the future, the future is socialism”. Emek Youth of Istanbul Provincial Youth Manager Mete Kağan Yıldırım spoke.

Yıldırım, who said that the struggle of Deniz and friends will not be forgotten in the 48 years that passed, said, “Those who hung them, those who passed the string of death, believed that it would be a solution to hang them, but their expectations were destroyed! Deniz and friends have been living in the name, struggle, determination and courage of hundreds of thousands of young people for 48 years,” he said.

Photograph: Eylem Nazlıer/Evrensel

Source: Evrensel Daily

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