Turkish lawyers stage rally to protest draft bill on bar associations

Thousands of Turkish lawyers on Tuesday staged a rally in Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul to protest the ruling party’s draft bill, which aims to change the existing structure of bar associations.

Following the call of the Istanbul bar association, the lawyers gathered in front of the Caglayan Courthouse on the European side of the city for the protest dubbed the “defense meeting.”

The crowd denounced the draft bill, chanting slogans like “defense cannot be silenced” and “no salvation alone, either all or none.”

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his party was determined to create a more democratic and pluralistic structure, and for this, it is focusing on the formation of a multiple bar association system.

The ruling Justice and Development Party presented the draft to the parliament, where it holds the majority, on Tuesday.

If passed, the bill would allow legal professionals to establish new bar associations, with a minimum of 2,000 membership.

However, the opponents argue that it will affect the independence of lawyers, divide and politicize them, and weaken the power of the legal system.

Currently, there are 80 bar associations across the country, some of which are critical to the government.