Union of Turkish Bar Associations Head, Metin Feyzioğlu, has issued a statement with the heading: “We Give Warning - Enough is Enough”. In the statement, in which it is noted that a de-facto union of powers has come into being under the state of emergency, attention is drawn to the harm that will be caused to Turkey from debate over the death penalty and recent prohibitions. The statement ends as follows:
“We the Union of Turkish Bar Associations warn all of our citizens of the clear and imminent danger caused by the situation into which we have been led. We invite the President and political leadership to respect rules of law that have attained universality and to put an end to the tension in society.
At the time of the 15 July bloody coup attempt, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations and all of our bar associations stood as of the first moment steadfastly in opposition to the perpetrators of the coup and in support of democracy and the Republic of Turkey State.
Today, we find ourselves obliged to issue the following historic warnings:
The perfectly justified warnings that we made for years in the process leading to 15 July and our steadfast stance in opposition to the coup attempt make it imperative that the competent authorities pay heed to our thoughts. Turkey has no toleration left for fatal mistakes and weaknesses along the line of “I was deceived, duped or mistaken”.
Through the decrees with the force of law issued on the basis of the state of emergency proclaimed so as to combat the criminal organisation behind the coup, the entire state mechanism has been reshaped from the bottom up behind closed doors.
Even though the Turkish Parliament managed to function and act as an overarching brain under the most adverse of conditions during the National Struggle that we waged under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, it has today been brought to the point of being discarded by decrees with the force of law.
SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA TAKES THIS LAWLESSNESS TO THE EXTREME
The state of emergency has been diverted from the purpose of combatting the coup and made into a routine style of government. A de-facto union of powers has been introduced in the country. The once-problematic independence and impartiality of the judiciary has in any case been totally eliminated. This state of affairs lays bare the intentions beneath the new order presented as being the home-grown presidential system.
Debate has even been instigated over the Peace Treaty of Lausanne within the propaganda mill over the presidency being waged by the President. By this means, the borders of the Republic that were drawn as a result of our National Struggle and are recognised in international treaties have been brought into debate.
There is an insistent endeavour to tear up and render void of meaning the founding principles of the Republic contained in articles of our Constitution that are unamendable and whose amendment may not even be proposed.
The reintroduction of the death penalty will lead to the consequence of Turkey’s expulsion from the Council of Europe. The political leadership has launched a campaign for the death penalty in full cognisance of this and is ramping it up with obtaining a result in mind. Turkey’s expulsion from the Council of Europe will amount to a radical change to the path we have followed from the Tanzimat until today. This is tantamount to us ceasing to be party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Our ceasing to be party to the European Convention on Human Rights means, in turn, the basic rights and freedoms of citizens of the Republic of Turkey being deprived of all safeguard and the right to make individual application to the European Court of Human Rights being taken from us.
Press freedom has been restricted to an extent that is unacceptable under absolutely any circumstance in a democratic society. The political leadership is imposing the most dangerous form of censorship, self-censorship, on the media that is not aligned with it. Shut-downs of the internet and social media undertaken in an arbitrary manner take this lawlessness to the extreme. State power is being used to prevent the people from accessing news that the political leadership does care for. The entire state machinery is being mobilised for the purpose of political propagands.
State of emergency decrees with the force of law are directly targeting the right of defence and the institutional function performed by lawyers. Citizens’ basic rights and freedoms that are defended by lawyers constitute the fundamental and real target.
Virtually all of the rights falling under the right to a fair trial are being disregarded.
Trials have been diverted from the goal of separating the innocent from the guilty and transformed into vehicles for labelling and lustrating people under ready-made judgments. The greatest suffering from this is felt by society and our innocent citizens, while those who benefit most are the terrorist organisations that burn and destroy our country and bathe it in blood. Our citizens retain no confidence in the judiciary. The judiciary has ceased to be the foundation of the country.
Each investigation and prosecution to resonate in the public sphere brings with it even greater polarisation of society and turns our people against one another.
The perception prevails that the judiciary acts in a partial and subordinate manner. It is widely accepted in society that trials have turned into tools for achieving political ends.
Remand orders from courts that are susceptible to interference by the political leadership targeting members of parliament, mayors, members of the judiciary, journalists, academics and lawyers are grist to the mill of terrorist organisations and widen the scope for their propaganda.
However, justice is the sole common denominator that will permit it to embrace our 79 million citizens and the supremacy of the law is the sole means to enable the future to be approached with confidence and for securing a majoritarian-participatory democracy.
We the Union of Turkish Bar Associations warn all of our citizens of the clear and imminent danger caused by the situation into which we have been led. We invite the President and political leadership to respect rules of law that have attained universality and to put an end to the tension in society.
As Mustafa Kemal Atatürk said:
‘THERE ARE NO HOPELESS SITUATIONS, ONLY HOPELESS PEOPLE.’
LAWYERS IN TURKEY WILL CONTINUE TO STAND STEADFAST AND GIVE CAUSE FOR HOPE.”