About 500 lawyers and law faculty members affiliated to the Istanbul Bar Association protested against custody and arrests that have recently remarkably increased particularly related to members of the press. In their demonstration on Istanbul's centrally located Istiklal Avenue on Tuesday (22 March), they claimed that the custody and arrests were unlawful and called for "independence of the law".
The group walked from the Bar Association along Istiklal Avenue to Taksim Square lead by the management personnel of the association.
The lawyers and lecturers carried banners reading "We will touch even if we get burned", "A free press is not to be silenced", "Rule of law instead of police state", "Custody cannot be defiance" and "The right to defence cannot be restricted". They chanted slogans like "Independent judiciary, independent Turkey" and "Hands off the judiciary, AKP".
Young Civilians: 'You know very well, bar association'
Two members of the 'Young Civilians' group had posted a banner from a hotel window on the way of the protestors featuring "You know very well, bar association". Young Civilians member Tansel Parlak reported later on that three lawyers entered the hotel when they saw the banner and beat activists Hülya Yalçınkaya and Şahadet Çitil who were taken into police custody subsequently.
On the website of the Young Civilians it was announced, "The members of the Bar Association vividly showed what they understand of freedom".
"No rule of law without legal security"
Spokesman Dr. Ümit Kocasakal, President of the Istanbul Bar Association, said that fundamental rights and freedoms were under attack of the political power, first and foremost freedom of the press. He said that the Istanbul Bar Association was going to protect democracy and the rule of law.
"There is no confidentiality of private life, no inviolability of the home and no personal security - in short, there is no legal security any more. We cannot speak of the rule of law at a place where there is no legal security any more".
"The Special Authority Courts that are disregarding any defence turned into a means of pressure of the political power. They should be abolished immediately together with their special trial procedures. All sorts of bans and pressure applied to press freedom and freedom of expression must be stopped immediately".
Wreath in front of Atatürk bust
The Secretary General of the Istanbul Bar Association, Hüseyin Özbek, declared, "The HSYK [Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges] is being organized according to the political power. They want a law that depends on the government and the power. It is our aim to explain that an independent law means an independent Turkey and to raise awareness among the society".
A female lawyer who joined the demonstration claimed, "We hope that everything will be alright. We are here in order to not to lose this hope". At the end of the press statement, a wreath with the writing 'Istanbul Bar Association' was laid down in front of the bust of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on Taksim Square, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic. (EG/EÖ/VK)