On 17 May 2013, the President of the Istanbul Bar Association Ümit Kocasakal and nine other board members will appear in court having been charged with attempting to influence the judicial process in the Bayloz (‘Slegehammer’) case.

Below we reproduce a press release published in February by the Istanbul Bar Association in reaction to the charges. And we have also made a number of related documents available for download: the full indictment against the lawyers; a press release by the Presidency of the Istanbul Bar; the final resolution from the Bar’s General Assembly, which took place on 17 March 2013; and a document of  selected articles from the Turkish Criminal Code of relevance to the case.

1- In the same direction with the planned actions going on for a long time, as a part and step of transformation of the society, judiciary has first been besieged and then captivated after taken over de facto. Results of this situation starting from its result on higher judicial bodies have become concretely-visible. No persons or institutions in Turkey do have legal (judicial) security anymore. Muting, intimidation and elimination of the opponents and patriots is now being conducted via the judiciary.

2It is now the turn for lawyers and bar associations. Lawyers and bar association who refuse to be silenced, to obey, but give a struggle are now the target of the political rule (government).

3- Accordingly, the same scenario is on screen. A glut of searches, detentions, arrests and lawsuits has started based on “organization” accusation that opens every single door. With the organized broadcasts, lawyers were declared “terrorist” due to the cases they handle or their professional activities and by mentioning their names together with some terrorist organizations in order to criminalize them, there has been an endevour to legitimize the initiatives to intimidate and demoralize the lawyers. The recent statements by the Law and Enforcement Authority and the Prime Minister are part of these legitimization efforts. In an order issued the 8th Chamber of the Council of State, attorneyship profession has been defined as “private business”, a decision by which the Council of State has also been involved in these efforts to disrepute the profession.

4- The discussions around the issue of “losing eligibility” – which was consciously brought forward in the agenda by the unlawful lawsuit filed againt the President and Board Members of Istanbul Bar Association, the other ongoing investigations and the statements by a deputy- is a part of the above-mentioned organization. As it happened in the September 12, 1980 coup period, legal entity of Istanbul Bar Association and the will of the lawyers which was revealed during the General Assembly are on target.  The ones who were unable to attain the desired result in the General Assembly have, this time, been engaged in some initiatives to discharge us in antidemocratic and unlawful ways. In other words, what is desired via unlawful cases is to discharge the board members who were elected with a wide majority of votes. Articles that were not put into practice or considered even by the junta in the September 12 coup period during the lawsuit filed against Istanbul Bar Association are currently discussed to be put into practice in the “advanced democracy” we have arrived at.   The aim is to create silent bar associations that would silence everyone, be submissive to unlawfulnesses and would not back the lawyers and the profession. If the bar associations were silenced and intimidated, and if they became “submissive” and “compliant”, they would not able to back the lawyers and the law, which, in turn,  would make the lawyers an easier target. As a result of this, lawyers would hesitate to handle some certain cases, our citizens would be left defenseless, they would not claim their rights, and the rights would be violated more easily. This is purely a longing for a dicta.

5- All sections of the society are being silenced and intimidated. Shortly, Turkey is currently living through fascism. The struggle has taken a new turn.

6- However, as we always say, lawyers and bar association shall never surrender, they shall resist till the end and they shall exercise their legitimate right to self-defense. We, wholeheartedly, believe that all sections of the society will back the lawyers and bar associations that are the guarantee of their rights and law in this period.

7- Therefore, in response to the assaults towards the lawyers, attorneyship profession, honor of the profession and the bar associations that were intensified and reached such an unbearable and threatening level, at its meeting on 07.02.2013, the Board of Directors of Istanbul Bar Association has decided to make a call to the General Assembly of Istanbul Bar Association, the highest organ of Istanbul Bar Association, to gather at an extraordinary meeting in order to discuss these issues restricted with this agenda and to map out a course of action. They have also agreed to invite the President, Board Members and all other organs of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, the presidents of all other local bar associations, all lawyers in Turkey, deans and faculty members of the law schools, all national and international legal organizations to the Assembly. Our General Assembly will give the most appropriate answer to the assaults targeting our profession, our colleagues and our bar association as well as to the efforts and the tricks to discharge us.

Respectfully released to the public opinion.