TBB head Feyzioğlu draws ire over supporting Turkish gov’t’s massive rights violations

Metin Feyzioğlu, the President of Turkish Bar Association (TBB), seen as he shakes hand with Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Metin Feyzioğlu, the head of Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), has drawn ires from Turkey’s democratic circles, jurists and social media  users following his statement supportive to the massive human rights violations committed by the Turkish government led by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday.

Feyzioğlu was featured as a guest on a Turkish radio program “Bir de Bunu Dinle” on RS FM on Thursday. Giving open support to Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign and indiscriminate persecution targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement, Feyzioğlu has stated that he gave a struggle against the Gülen movement since the past and added that “If the courts exonerate these scoundrels, these traitors, they would not show us the sunshine again.”

Referring to academic Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça, who have been on hunger strike demanding that they be reinstated to their jobs, Feyzioğlu has also said that “Nobody should expect me to be sympathetic to Nuriye and Semih.”

“When a hunger striker loses his or her consciousness, the state is obliged to intervene in the situation to prevent that person’s death. Nobody shall expect me to show a father-like sympathy towards Nuriye and Semih,” said Feyzioğlu.

Semih Özakça has reacted againstFeyzioğlu by sharing his criticism on his Twitter account and said that “He knows that if he sympathizes, he will get arrested. If he empathizes, he cannot curry favor with the government. We are within the people, we are children of the people. One has to tell Feyzioğlu: ‘Who are you’. I don’t know if there is such an expectation but nobody should expect us to be sympathetic towards declaring Feyzioğlu our father.”

Thousands of people in social media have also reacted harshly against Feyzioğlu’s statements. As some resembles him as Hitler’s lawyer, some claims that he should give up being lawyer and should be a partisan prosecutor on the service of Erdoğan’s despotic regime.

Feyzioğlu has been criticised frequently by the people for his silence and open or disguised support to detentions and imprisonments of hundreds of Turkish and Kurdish lawyers who are deemed by Erdoğan regime as critical.

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, at least 555 lawyers have been arrested since July 15, 2016 and at least 1,433 lawyers were under prosecution as of Oct. 27, 2017. Sixty-two lawyers have received lengthy prison sentences thus far. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are  presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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