Lawyers’ Day in Turkey: "There is nothing to celebrate!"

April 5 is considered "Lawyers' Day" in Turkey. In Istanbul, lawyers' associations drew attention to their murdered and imprisoned colleagues and made it clear that there is nothing for them to celebrate.

Lawyers' associations issued a statement in front of Istanbul's Palace of Justice in Çağlayan on the "Lawyers' Day” celebrated in Turkey on April 5. In a country where lawyers are murdered and arrested and go on hunger strike for the enforcement of fair trials, there is nothing to celebrate, stated the associations ÇHD (Contemporary Lawyers Association) and ÖHD (Association of Lawyers for Freedom).

Istanbul ÇHD Chairwoman Çiğdem Akbulut pointed out that exactly two years ago, lawyer Ebru Timtik turned her hunger strike, which began in prison, into a death fast. "We all tried to support her struggle for a fair trial at that time. Unfortunately, we lost our colleague. We do not celebrate Lawyers' Day because Ebru Timtik died for the demand for a fair trial. We don't celebrate this day because the president of the Amed Bar Association, Tahir Elçi, was murdered in the open street seven years ago and the perpetrators have not been convicted until today."

Following the speech, a greeting from Aytaç Ünsal was read from prison. The lawyer had entered a death fast together with Ebru Timtik and was arrested again after his release.

HDP deputy Musa Piroğlu pointed out in a speech that many groups of the population are fighting for their rights: "The dismissed worker wants justice, women affected by male violence want justice, the villagers whose forests are being cut down want justice. All demand justice and see the need for a free defense. Defense is the most important component of the legal system. We get reports of torture and mistreatment in prisons and police custody every day. To build a new legal system, we have to fight. The imprisoned lawyers must be released."

The co-chair of the Istanbul branch of the ÖHD, Esra Erin, read out a joint statement pointing out that lawyers do not only fight for the enforcement of law in court: "We have taken over this fight from lawyers like Fuat Erdoğan, Faik Candan, Şevket Epözdemir and Medet Serhat, who were murdered in the 1990s, from Tahir Elçi, who was murdered in 2015, from Ebru Timtik, who died on death fast on 27 August 2020. We will continue the struggle of our imprisoned colleagues, because their freedom means the freedom of defense."