Lawyers have come together in front of İstanbul Courthouse and rallied against the motion foreseeing amendments to the Attorneys’ Acts that will enable the establishment of more than one bar association in a city. Police intervened in the protest in Adana.

Upon the call of the İstanbul Bar Association, hundreds of lawyers came together in front of İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan today (June 30) and protested the bill that will "split bar associations."

Lawyers also attempted to rally against the motion and march in protest in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Adana. However, the police intervened, a commotion ensued and police used pepper gas.

Foreseeing the establishment of more than one bar association in a city, the Bill on Amendments to the Attorneys' Act and Some Laws was submitted to the Parliamentary Speaker's Office earlier today.

According to the bill jointly prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) MPs, lawyers can register in any bar association if there are more than one bar association in the city. The bill foresees that a bar association will be established by a minimum of 2,000 lawyers if there are over 5,000 lawyers in a city.

According to the figures of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), while 17,598 lawyers are registered in Ankara Bar Association, 46,052 lawyers are registered in İstanbul Bar and 9,612 lawyers in İzmir. The total number of registered lawyers across the country is 127,691.

That being the case, the bill "to split bar associations" is likely to affect these three bars with over 5,000 lawyers.

'A project planned with the 2010 referendum'

In the meeting held in front of İstanbul Courthouse, hundreds of lawyers chanted the slogan, "The defense has not hushed, it will not" and İstanbul Bar Chair Mehmet Durakoğlu addressed the crowd.

As reported by news website, Durakoğlu said, "They say that we do politics. Can you please tell me a country where it is a crime to do politics? They want that lawyers not talk about politics. We will talk about it till we die. We have to lay claim to human rights. It is our duty to protect the rule of law. I am addressing Ankara from here: Bar associations cannot stay silent. Ankara needs to know this. We don't obey, we don't bend."

Durakoğlu also referred to the Constitutional referendum in 2010 within the context of Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which is held responsible for the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016:

"In 2010 referendum, we said, 'Don't do this, you are handing the judiciary over to the FETÖ.' They told us, 'You cannot say the FETÖ, you should say Mr. Hodja.' This is a FETÖ project as well! Just keep this in mind. It is a project planned with the referendum in 2010.

"We will always show respect for the will of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), but we will also address the ones who attempt to use the legislative power as a weapon and explain them that it will turn back as a boomerang. We will remind them of this. It is our democratic right. We will use this right of ours to the end. We will prove that this bill is against the norms of universal law because we are lawyers."

After the statement of Durakoğlu, the rally ended.