ANKARA - Police prevents the bar associations and lawyers from coming together in Kuğulu Park in the Turkish capital. Ankara Bar Association president Erinç Sağkan reacted to the police blockade saying, “As long as the bill continues to be discussed in the parliament, we will continue to exercise our most basic rights."
As the “multiple bar" bill prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is discussed in the Turkish parliament, the bar heads launched defense watch sit-in in the Kuğulu Park of Ankara to show their reaction to the bill. As bar heads declare that they plan to continue their defense watch in the park until the bill discussions in the parliament are over, the police set three barriers and surrounded the park, preventing all the entrances to the park.
'BAN ON ARBITRARY GROUNDS'
İzmir Bar Association president Özkan Yücel said, "Turkey is a state of law and we have chosen to wait in the park considering the social distancing. Our demonstration is prevented on arbitrary grounds and this has nothing to do with the social distancing. They try to keep us apart from the lawyers and the people. Each time we overcome various obstacles. None of these obstacles complies with the law. Are they (the police) the ones to decide where the press will work? We raise our struggle for you all."
'CLEARLY AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION'
"We are encountering a blockade in this central park today which we have always encountered in Ankara recently. The current ban has nothing to do with the law. We have preferred this place because it has a large open area. We act in accordance with the criteria announced by the Ministry of Health, but such a blockade practice is just dangerous for the health especially during pandemic," said Erinç Sağkan, Ankara Bar Associations president and added, "A crime that is clearly against the Constitution is being committed. Citizens are not allowed to enter a public park. Bar heads will continue to stand up and wait here in the park. As long as the bill continues to be discussed in the parliament, we will continue to exercise our most basic rights."
LAWYERS WON'T LEAVE
The lawyers who came to support the bar heads also stated that they would not leave the bar heads alone. Lawyer Doğan Erkan, a member of Ankara Bar Association, said, "We will not leave the park until we reach the petition that the bar heads had prepared and sign it. In the petition they declare that this bill is against the Constitution, it shall be withdrawn. So we won't leave here."
JOURNALISTS ARE NOT ALLOWED, BUT ONLY ANADOLU AGENCY REPORTERS
Police also prevents the journalists to enter the Kuğulu Park where the bar heads launch the sit-in. After the police stated that they would only let the journalists with a "yellow" or "turquoise" to enter the park, some journalists with a yellow press card entered the area, which was shown by the police. However after a while a group of journalists among them protested the ban on their colleagues who were not let inside and went out to join journalists waiting outside. Only "Anadolu Agency" reporters remained in the area reserved by the police for “journalists with cards”.