Turkish lawyers protest government attempt to curb bar associations

The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) will march today in Ankara to protest the governing Justice and Development Party’s

The heads of Turkish bar associations at a sit in near Ankara

Photo: AP Photo

The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) will march today in Ankara to protest the governing Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) draft bill introducing reforms to the structure of bar associations.

The reform seeks to divide and politicise Turkey’s bar associations—the only remaining opposition force within the justice system—by allowing cities with more than 5,000 lawyers to establish multiple bar associations. If passed, lawyers loyal to President Erdogan will be able to form their own bar associations in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir—the three major cities the AKP lost to the opposition just over a year ago. The increase in the number of bar associations in major cities will also give disproportionately large political weight to said groups in smaller cities.

Despite today’s protests being backed by various opposition parties, expect the Turkish parliament, which is commanded by the AKP and their nationalist allies, to pass the bill. By expanding the influence of Erdogan-friendly lawyers, the bill will heighten the state’s “war on terror” by facilitating arrests of opposition figures. Simultaneously, support for crackdowns on crimes against women and children, with which AKP judges are more lenient, will prove a more distant hope.

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