Ankara, Sep 2 () - As the new legal year started with ceremonies held at courts across the country on Sept. 1, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) announced that it would mark the occasion by marching to Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara on Sept. 5, “hand in hand with the citizens” to stress the “need for the rule of law and to stand against terror.”
In protest at the government’s lifting of the official ceremony at the annual start of the legal year due to then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s reaction against the TBB head speaking at an official ceremony in 2014, the TBB has decided to march to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on a hill overlooking the capital Ankara on Sept. 5.
The TBB called said it would “say no terror and yes to a state of law and democracy” adding that it would be celebrating the start of the legal year “together with the citizens.”
“We struggle with all our effort against the removing of any kind of pressure on the judiciary, upholding the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers” read the TBB’s call for the march to Anıtkabir.
The incident to which Erdoğan referred to as an “unfortunate experience” took place May 10, 2014 when TBB head Metin Feyzioğlu delivered an hour-long speech criticizing the government at a ceremony marking the Council of State’s 146th anniversary.
Turkish politics witnessed a first when Erdoğan interrupted Feyzioğlu’s speech, standing up and heckling him before walking out of the ceremony. He then accused Feyzioğlu of “distorting reality” and being “rude and disrespectful to state protocol.” Erdoğan later vowed not to attend any future meetings where Feyzioğlu is scheduled as a speaker.
Despite Erdoğan’s urging, the Supreme Court of Appeals decided to include Feyzioğlu on the list of speakers at the Sept. 1 event last year, leading President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and former Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel to not attend the ceremony.
Meanwhile, the Istanbul Bar Association has posted a notice in Turkish newspapers stating that “this year would once again not be a year of justice” and “nobody should fool themselves or citizens” about the issue.