Bar association chief vows not to ‘give in’ to gov’t
Oya Armutçu – ANKARA
AA photoThe head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) has said vowed not to give in to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of the Nov. 1 elections.
“Let’s tell the government: We are not giving in; there are lawyers in Turkey,” said Metin Feyzioğlu, head of the TBB, at an alternative ceremony held at the Bar Association in Ankara on Sept. 5 to mark the start of the legal year.
“The best antidote against the state of fear is to talk,” Feyzioğlu said.
“To talk without fearing [of anything] and to talk all together. Today, at his point, we are shouting out: We are not afraid of you,” he said, adding that he was hopeful that the struggle for a state of law and democracy would prevail.
In protest at the government’s removal of the official ceremony at the annual start of the legal year due to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reaction against the TBB head speaking at an official ceremony in 2014, the TBB held an alternative ceremony in Ankara and later marched to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on a hill overlooking Ankara on Sept. 5, together with citizens while stressing the “need for the rule of law and to stand against terror.”
The incident to which Erdoğan referred to as an “unfortunate experience” took place on May 10, 2014, when Feyzioğlu delivered an hour-long speech criticizing the government at a ceremony marking the Council of State’s 146th anniversary. Turkish politics witnessed a first when Erdoğan interrupted Feyzioğlu’s speech, standing up and heckling him before walking out of the ceremony. He then accused Feyzioğlu of “distorting reality” and being “rude and disrespectful to state protocol.”
Erdoğan later vowed not to attend any future meetings where Feyzioğlu is scheduled as a speaker. Despite Erdoğan’s urging, the Supreme Court of Appeals decided to include Feyzioğlu on the list of speakers at the Sept. 1 event last year, leading President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and former Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel to not attend the ceremony.