A group of lawyers gathered in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul on Tuesday to protest a government bill aimed at amending the law on lawyers and altering bar associations’ election mechanisms, the T24 news website reported.
“We are lawyers. We do not pledge allegiance to or obey [political power],” Mehmet Durakoğlu, president of the İstanbul Bar Association said. “This is our democratic right. As the lawyers of this country, we will prove the unconstitutionality of this bill.”
The police set up barricades, making it difficult for lawyers to access the area where the protest was held.
The protesters also called for the resignation of Metin Feyzioğlu, chairman of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), who has frequently been criticized for cozying up to the government.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently announced plans to introduce changes to the bar association system to reduce the influence of the İstanbul and Ankara bar associations in favor of smaller cities, which are considered to be more government-friendly.
The plan prompted protests from lawyers across the country. Last week, a protest march organized by senior lawyers towards the capital of Ankara was briefly blocked by the police.
AKP deputy group chairman Cahit Özkan on Tuesday announced that his party had submitted the bill to the parliament speaker’s office.