Day of shame at the judicial complex: Violent police intervention
Lawyers who had started a ‘Justice Watch’ at the Istanbul Judicial Complex in Çağlayan yesterday for their colleagues Akın Atalay, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Bülent Utku, who have been detained in the operation to silence our paper, encountered a harsh intervention by rapid reaction force and plain clothes police. During the intervention, Modern Jurists Association (ÇHD) Istanbul Branch Chair Gökmen Yeşil suffered a broken nose, while lawyer Erkan Ünüvar’s leg was broken. Eight lawyers were arrested.
The lawyers, having congregated in front of the Themis statue at the entrance to Door C of the Istanbul Judicial Complex to support their detained colleagues and demand their release, sat for a while in silence on the steps holding placards reading, ‘Freedom for Defence’. The police, having approached the lawyers, called on the protest to end. Following negotiations that were held, the lawyers announced that they would continue their protest until 13.00 hours. At this, the rapid reaction force policemen intervened against the group made up of lawyers, striking them with shields and launching gas canisters.
Some lawyers sustained noticeable injuries to their faces and various parts of their bodies. During the intervention, Modern Jurists Association (ÇHD) Istanbul Branch Chair Gökmen Yeşil suffered a broken nose, while lawyer Erkan Ünüvar’s leg was broken. A plaster cast was placed on Ünüvar’s leg at hospital. The lawyers Diren Yeşil, Özge Serdal, Kemal Aytaç, Kıvanç Kayaoğlu, Sevinç Sarıkaya, Erkan Ünüvar, İsmail Anıl Başoğlu and Hatice Nur Gök were arrested. Lawyer Bahri Belen and a group of lawyers approached the public prosecutor and sought the release of their colleagues who had been arrested. The arrested lawyers were released in the evening hours.
The judicial complex is the place for lawyers
HDP Member of Parliament, Filiz Kerestecioğlu, who was supporting the protest, responded to the approach of the rapid reaction force officers by saying, ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to sweep up?’ Kerestecioğlu, noting that the judicial complex is the place for lawyers, said the judicial complex was being run by the police and rapid reaction force at the behest of the ruling party. Kerestecioğlu, pointing out that peaceful protests are constantly meeting with interventions, commented, ‘Today, violence was used against a whole host of our lawyers, myself included. They attacked seventy-year-old lawyers and sprayed gas into the judicial complex. This is something that can never be accepted. The bar association needs to pull its socks up. Public prosecutors are people who have graduated from the same schools as us. They can never have procedures conducted such as having lawyers arrested handcuffed behind their backs and using violence, nor tolerate this; on the contrary, they must come and prevent this. All of these things are indicative of an oppressive regime.’
We have no security
Several Ballıkaya, Attorney-at-Law, noting that they underwent a police attack while sitting in a calm and silent manner, said, ‘Eight of our lawyer colleagues were arrested, and they used serious violence in doing so. The judicial complex is the place for lawyers and, naturally enough, they articulated their demands within the judicial complex. They could not even tolerate the voicing of this demand. Within the judicial complex, being a lawyer and defence have lost all meaning. We see that lawyers are not permitted to work and live here. We see that the police are using a heavy hand to try to cow and intimidate lawyers.’
They want their lawyers
İlknur Alcan, Attorney-at-Law, said, ‘They first pushed a group of us out by hitting us with their shields. They punched some of our colleagues. They pushed us out after having repeated the same thing three times. This is our workplace; as lawyers, we perform our tasks at the judicial complex. If we stage a reaction, we do that at the judicial complex, too. The first word we will hear from the prosecutors who gave this order on the day they are detained will be, “I want my lawyer.” We repeated to the police commanders here, too, that if today they suffer injustice, the first person they will want to see will be their lawyer. Kemal Aytaç, Attorney-at-Law, indicating that they will hold a watch every Thursday for the right to a trial and defence, said, ‘April 5th is Lawyers’ Day, but under today’s conditions we are unable to have a lawyers’ day worth celebrating in this country.’
LAWYERS REMOVED, THEIR PLACES TAKEN BY THE POLICE
Following the violent removal of the lawyers, police officers have been stationed in the place where the lawyers wished to hold the watch.