Lawyers in Turkish cities take to the streets. They are protesting a bill that would severely weaken them.
ISTANBUL taz | We're not going to be split! "" For an independent judiciary! "Nationwide, lawyers in Turkey are taking to the streets these days to protest a draft law that the ruling AKP has ordered President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brought to Parliament on Tuesday.
That would be "the last coffin nail for an independent judiciary," said Mehmet Durakoğlu, president of the Istanbul Bar Association, at a major rally in Istanbul on Tuesday. "We have to prevent that."
The draft initially sounds innocent. After that, it should be possible in the future that lawyers who are not satisfied with the bar association can found their own professional association. The bar association's monopoly is to be broken in this way.
The background to this law is, according to Judges and prosecutors are now also bringing the lawyers into line. So far, the bar associations, as professional associations of lawyers, have been the last institution within the judicial system that still opposes an absolutely compliant jurisdiction.
Voice with weight
Turkey has 81 chambers of lawyers, each with its own province. The chambers issue the lawyer's license and their board members speak for all lawyers in the country. So far, the AKP has never been able to win in the elections to the board members. Erdoğan-critical lawyers make up the majority everywhere.
The bar associations speak for all lawyers in the country, their voice has weight. That is exactly what should be put into perspective. If there are many competing professional associations, the government can always work with the association that is politically close to it.
The lawyers in Turkey have been storming this law for weeks. Two weeks ago they organized a march on Ankara, which the police stopped by force. Since then it has been demonstrated before the courts in the respective provinces. On Monday in the south in Mersin and Adana, in the west in Izmir. On Tuesday in Istanbul, with a major demonstration that, as Chairman Mehmet Durakoğlu said, "will go down in history".
The bar associations are supported by other professional associations, who fear that it will be their turn next. In Turkey, professional associations are important voices of civil society.
Progressive chambers of architects and engineers are constantly opposing large-scale government projects or supporting environmental activists who protest against impending ecological disasters.
Since these professional associations in Turkey have a long tradition as part of the republic, they are not as easy to criminalize and label as "terrorists" as happens to other opposition forces.
It is therefore no coincidence that these professional associations are essentially against the populist-Islamist policies of the Erdoğan government. They belong to the enlightened urban bourgeoisie, which is massively threatened by the AKP. The protesters know that the bar association would be one of the last bastions of the rule of law and committed secular civil society.