Colleagues met in Ankara on February 24, 2018 in order to protest the call for the removal of the word “Turkey” from the name of the Union of Turkish Bar Association (Türkiye Barolar Birliği), which would lead the way to the fragmentation of bar associations in Turkey.
Lawyers placed a wreath on Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, at 11.00, which was followed by a moment of silence.
President of the Union of Turkish Bar Association signed the official Anıtkabir memorial book as follows:
We came into your presence together with the executive boards and presidents of bar associations and thousands of our colleagues before our meeting.
We altogether say;
Bar Associations and the Union of Turkish Bar Associations are Turkey.
Union of bar association is the union of Turkey.
The only way out of the fire circle surrounding us and the scenarios over our country is to strenghten our national unity and solidarity.
National unity can be attained on the common ground of the rule of law if our citizens embrace each other. An independent, impartial and reliable judiciary is a must for the rule of law. Independence of lawyers is sine qua non for a reliable judiciary. On the other hand, independence of lawyers is dependent on the existence of independent and strong bar associations.
Republic is a shoulder to lean on. Bar associations and the Union of Turkish Bar Associations are the people’s advocate.
We, lawyers, as the dauntless defenders of the Republic, will succeed together. Because we are rightful in our case.
After the ceremony in Anıtkabir, 8000 lawyers from all over Turkey met in Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Sports Hall with the slogan “Union of Turkish Bar Associations and Bar Associations are Turkey”.
President of Istanbul Bar Association Atty. Mehmet Durakoğlu took the floor for his address. He started his words saying “We are lawyers.” Durakoğlu went on with his address;
“We, as lawyers who are the members of a profession that has internalized the concept of human rights -deriving from values such as equality and freedom- as “a moral requirement” shall never give up on our demand for equality and freedom. In our opinion, democratic legitimacy of the political power is never a force to justify restrictions of rights and freedoms. Rights and freedoms cannot be sacrificed for the debatable values of the majority ideologies.
One might grant special authorities to the courts, the proocedings can be done in martial courts, one might declare state of emergency and introduce governmental decrees. We are aware that the decisions made, though supported by the relevant laws, are not “rightful” in public conscience. We know this very well and we say it aloud.
We are lawyers.
All our accumulated sensitivities towards our profession bears defense right and the people’s right to legal remedies in its very core. If we surrender, we are aware that we would give up on justice. We never surrender though every head to be hung has been and would be ours throughout the history.
The meaning we have attached to the divinity of the right to defense, which had not even been denied by the Romans from their slaves, constitutes the story which defines our struggle while representing social justice. Ethnicity, religion, language, gender and color are not our field of occupation. We are there on someone’s side regardless of his identity and opinion if his rights are violated.
The fact that the basic tool to access to justice is defense has been the primary source all our accumulations have been fed by. We do not call a trial as “fair” in which defense is ignored, disregarded and oversimplified to a formal constituent.
We believe –without any discrimination- that justice is necessary for all. Our sensitivity for a defense without being subject to any limitations is only for the interest of justice.
We are lawyers.
We are aware that if political power excludes itself from judicial review, not only the separation of powers would lose its function, but also the judicary would disappear as a whole.
Yes, we are lawyers.
Anyone will need us some day...
You cannot possibly take hold of us though you might besiege and enslave the judiciary. We have never obeyed as we have a power based on the lessons we have learned from the coups, martial courts, state security courts, courts with special authority, state of emergency. Even the tortures of March and September 12 could not stop us.
We are aware that some are annoyed as the jurists talk about politics while the politicans speak very much of law. However, law is politics, per se. And the politics is law. Not talking about politics is submission and surrender in the face of all that happens around. We do not remain silent.
If you split us, you would split people. We are there in child abuses. If you tear us apart, you would find noone in femicides. Those who spoil environment would not even feel disturbed if we are torn apart. Noone would raise his voice if a right is violated if you tear us apart. However, we will always be here to speak. We are lawyers.
You might be disturbed by our presence. We are the lawyers of the revolution of enlightenment. Not of any other value. We know that a secular, democratic, social state governed by the rule of law arises from the revolutions of Atatürk. We know and we say it aloud. We are lawyers.
The meeting was finalized after several other speeches.