On 1st September the 2020-21 judicial year was opened with a ceremony at the presidential palace in Turkey. The Bar Associations were not invited to the ceremony. In their absence, President Erdogan boasted about the reforms to “rights and freedoms” they had implemented and justified the purge of lawyers who stood in solidarity with the Lawyer Ebru Timtik (who recently died on 238th day of a hunger strike demanding a fair trial).
Erdogan singled out the Istanbul Bar Association in particular, saying “It is not possible for lawyers who defend terrorists to become terrorists. If they do so there should be a consequence. In no country around the world would this crooked situation be allowed. We will do whatever it takes to end this bloody route from lawyer to terrorist. A lawyer in the course of their public duty cannot do what a judge, prosecutor, police or military is unable to do. The judiciary cannot be under the control of any other elements or ideologies. The judiciary must have only one ideology, and that is justice. It is sad that some Bar Associations, which should be judicial institutions have become back gardens for terrorist organisations, a source of propaganda and illegal activity”.
The CHP Mersin MP and member of the Turkish Parliament Justice Committee, Alpay Antmen, also made a written statement to the press to coincide with the opening of the judicial year. In this press release Antmen stressed that “Members of the judiciary are making judgments within compliance with [Presidential] palace, not the constitution.”