Wise men for jailed lawyers

Wise men for jailed lawyers

Dear Istanbul residents: Today, April 5, starting at 5 p.m., traffic will be jammed at and around Beşiktaş. Let me warn you in advance. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet the wise men at his office at 6 p.m. at his Dolmabahçe office.

Since what the wise men will do and how they will do it are both not clear, that is all I can say about this topic.
However, this wise men system should be made perpetual. If it proves to be a convenient institution, then it can function in areas separate from the Kurdish issue.

April 5 is Lawyers Day.

While a portion of the country is undergoing democratization, other portions have obviously been left to lie fallow.

Jailed lawyers are still jailed.

According to jailed lawyer Taylan Tanay, there are enough lawyers in Kandıra Prison near Istanbul to equal a mid-sized Anatolian bar association.

This is despite the fact that the Istanbul chief public prosecutor said the arrests were not directed toward the profession of lawyers. He added that only a very small portion of the 25,000 lawyers registered at the Istanbul Bar have been arrested.

The rest of the lawyers must have heaved a sigh of relief.

I don’t know how wise they may be regarded as, but the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELHD), European Democratic Lawyers (EDL), Arab Lawyers Association and International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) issued a joint declaration.

The declaration read “Imprisoned lawyers should be released immediately” and “Lawyers, while conducting their profession, should not be identified with their clients and their clients’ cases.”

But Prime Minister Erdoğan declared that the arrested lawyers were members of a terrorist organization when there was no judicial ruling against them. The prime minister has mentioned the arrested lawyers six times in three weeks.

The head of the Progressive Lawyers Association, Selçuk Kozağaçlı asked for a computer to prepare his defense so that he could write. It was rejected.

Seeing this, he asked for a typewriter. Again, it was rejected.

Because he has platinum rods and nails in his right arm, it is naturally hard for him to write with his hand.
They did not listen to him.

While he was entering prison, after digital doors, X-ray machines and hand detectors, when they wanted to strip-search him, he resisted. Because he showed resistance, he was banned from receiving visitors for a month.

I once participated in a judicial reform meeting together with Kozağaçlı. In that meeting, there were also Justice Ministry officials present. I wonder what these officials thought when they heard that the person who they conferred with in that meeting about justice reform for four or five hours had been punished with a ban on visitors because he resisted being strip-searched in prison.

Since they are at it, another wise persons’ delegation should be formed. This delegation should step in for lawyers under arrest. They might as well start a “justice process” by negotiating with the government, police, certain prosecutors and the prison administration.

Thus, some space on an additional contingent will be provided to those who initially wanted to be on the wise persons’ list but who saw the wind taken out of their sails. It would also give the media a topic to talk about.

Özgür Mumcu is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published April 4. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

ÖZGÜR MUMCU - ozgur.mumcu@radikal.com.tr