The lawyers responded by putting on their court gowns and starting a multi-city march. They took the highways to demonstrate against the government's proposal to break up the Bars. Their rally, starting from many cities and towns to the capital, aimed at spreading their message to resist the government's attack on the independence of justice, law, and their organizations. In the so-called "Defense March" that took them days to reach the capital, they had to endure attacks, police blocks, and beatings. The Islamic capitalist government does not tolerate these types of rallies. The police were summoned to stop the march at each city. As usual, the Turkish police showed its infamous violence even on the presidents of the bar associations.
The Islamic Turkish government is in deep trouble over most occupational associations’ opposition to its dictatorial rule of a one-person regime. Many official and central associations of architects, engineers, nurses, doctors, justices, journalists oppose the corrupt and authoritarian government as well as the open breakdown of the country.
In a last attempt to curb opposition, the Turkish AKP government has proposed a way to attack these independent associations. In the new proposal, the government will break up the occupational associations and create new ones under the government’s auspices. Having some pro-government associations formed by a handful of its stooges supporting the government no matter what it may do will help the government’s image. This way, the government can claim not all engineers, doctors, architects or attorneys organized under the independent, central associations are opposed to its corruption. Accomplishing this task will sideline the professionals and educated layers of the society that challenge the dangerous, atrocious, and even criminal endeavors of the current government.
A large-scale attempt to curb opposition by dismantling professional trade organizations
The attack on the independent professional associations comes at the heel of the new polls that show the government’s grip on the society seems to be waning.
One of the steps of this new initiative is to break the independent Bar Associations in the country. A vast number of lawyers have voiced their concerns as the government abandons the independence of justice and politicizes the courts with appointed political officials. These so-called judges do nothing but rubber-stamp decisions for the political interests of the ruling party. With the world watching, the government sends journalists, professionals, and opposition party members to prison case after case through kangaroo courts. The only way the Islamic government could counter the accusations of injustice was to abolish the Bar Associations and create multiple Bar Associations in each province where one or some of which would support the government. The government will then accuse the opposition associations of “terrorism” and shut them down as it has done for all its opposition, leaving only friendly organizations to function.
The lawyers responded by putting on their court gowns and starting a multi-city march. They took the highways to demonstrate against the government’s proposal to break up the Bars. Their rally, starting from many cities and towns to the capital, aimed at spreading their message to resist the government’s attack on the independence of justice, law, and their organizations. In the so-called “Defense March” that took them days to reach the capital, they had to endure attacks, police blocks, and beatings. The Islamic capitalist government does not tolerate these types of rallies. The police were summoned to stop the march at each city. As usual, the Turkish police showed its infamous violence even on the presidents of the bar associations.
However, in the end, the attorneys persevered and pushed their way into the capital. Their march is constitutionally protected and cannot be prevented by the government for its political gains. But Turkish government is not famous for its adherence to the law or constitution. Now that they have reached their goal, the lawyers are preparing to sue the government for breaking the law when it tried preventing them from demonstrating.
Insider buy-out accusations for a progressive leader that turned to a staunch conservative
The new break-up plan the lawyers are marching against is only the latest assault of the government. The sudden change of heart of the liberal President of the United Bar Associations was suspicious.
As the representative of the liberal-left wing, Metin Feyzioğlu won the elections to lead the central Bar Association, an umbrella organization for the local Bar Associations. However, after his election, he started giving in to the government he criticized before. Current Turkish President Erdoğan had walked out of Metin Feyzioğlu’s speech at the Bar while shouting insults at him when he was the Prime Minister. However, suddenly the ice started to melt and two enem’es started loving each other for unknown reasons.
Feyzioğlu had forgotten the endless criticisms he leveled at Erdoğan’s government in the past. He is now hobnobbing with Erdoğan, the ex-Prime Minister who hurled personal insults during his speech at the Bar. Many believed some insider machinations, criminal threats, or even blackmail might have caused this sudden change. Others thought a promise of a high position, maybe the Minister of Justice, would be enough for Feyzioğlu to sell out his liberal-left constituents. In a TV program, the host even asked Feyzioğlu if the government had his “tape.”
Having a compromising secretly recorded tape, usually of sexual nature, is a common method the governments use in Turkey to discredit opposition leaders. Of course, there is no evidence of any criminal activity yet. And, most probably, none will surface. But the entire Bar Association stood shocked as the seemingly progressive, liberal fighter they chose to defend an independent justice system had a change of heart overnight. The liberal lawyer mysteriously and swiftly became a staunch supporter of the corruption laden government that sees independent courts as existential threats.
The vast body of lawyers isolated and withdrew their support from the ex-liberal turned conservative Bar President Metin Feyzioğlu. They ridiculed the turn-coat when he started showing up regularly at the Presidential Palace and started shaking hands with the President, not forgetting to smile and laugh cheerfully for the cameras. Yes, the same President he used to criticize.
When the Defense March started, Metin Feyzioğlu, defending the government’s stance against the independence of justice, had said: “I don’t understand what they are marching for.”
Trying to mend fences with his ex-supporters at the Bar, the organization’s President decided to show up where the cops attacked the lawyers at the “Defense March.” Yet, he had to leave immediately as the stunt turned out to be a PR disaster. He was 27 hours late to observe the beatings of the attorneys at the hands of the police. He pretended the assault never happened. However, the lawyers turned their backs en masse as he came and did not allow him to enter after clamping arms. He tried making a speech behind the lawyers. However, the Bar members booed, insulted, and accused him of causing the tense situation. So, his handlers decided to take him away and turn to damage control.
Photo opportunity show at the national mausoleum backfires on the flip-flopping head of the Bar Association as the Human Rights Group leader resigns
Feyzioğlu chose to take a stroll to the mausoleum of the nation’s founder, Atatürk, while his fellow local Bar Association leaders were being beaten up by the side of the road in the “Defense March.” Later he shared the photographs taken there in social media. Liberals consider Atatürk’s life and principles as “progressive.” And this visit was regarded as yet another deceitful maneuver by now hated Metin Feyzioğlu. This double-faced opportunism that plays both sides of the fence was not received well among his peers. The head of the Human Rights Group of the United Bar Associations of Turkey immediately resigned to protest this photo-op show on June 22. The lawyers condemned the turn-coat Metin Feyzioğlu in their statement: “We saw that the President of the Union of Bar Associations had been moving away from defending human rights to being against human rights. While his associates were being beaten up and were being dragged on the ground by the cops, he did not stand with them. He did not come during the conflict, but only after the issue was resolved. We do not accept this. We leave him alone with his conscience.” He was referring to Feyzioğlu’s appearing 27 hours after the police had beaten the marching lawyers.
Elya Construction company’s president attacks the lawyers
It wasn’t only the police that attacked the lawyers. When the security forces stopped the Bar members at the entrance of the capital, negotiations took place with the interior ministry while the lawyers congregated in front of a shopping mall construction. That is the only place the police allowed them to wait. They waited out in the open, for 24 hours during the negotiations.
During the long wait, the construction company Elya Group’s president Ahmet Reyiz Yilmaz brought some of his thugs and attacked the attorneys claiming they were trespassing on his construction. The construction industry is one of the very few that is left supporting President Erdoğan. However, currently they are angry since the government sources dried up and existing buildings have passed the saturation point in the real estate market. Construction bosses want an endless building spree financed by the government but accuse the opposition for the freezing of the saturated market.
Lawyers and justices show support for the Defense March
The Lawyers attacked, arrested, and beaten by the cops finally entered the capital by giving street fights against the police but also against tyranny and for democracy and independence of justice.
While the heads of the local Bar Associations were pushing their way to the national mausoleum through the batons and beatings of the police, the lawyers in many cities gathered at the Justice Offices where the courts are and staged demonstrations chanting, “Defense is not silent, and it will not be silent!”
Sendika.org news (M.B.)