Statements on Lawyers’ Day in Turkey

Today, 5 April 2024, on the occasion of Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, Lawyers for Lawyers once again strongly condemns the ongoing crackdown against lawyers in Turkey. The past twelve months were continuously marked by incidents of harassment and interference with lawyers’ work.

Only two days ago, on 2 April 2024, 13 lawyers were arrested who were part of a group of 200 lawyers gathering at Ca?layan courthouse, Istanbul, to read a press statement protesting the earlier revocation of the mayor-elect’s rights in the city of Van, Eastern Turkey. The lawyers were released the same night, but the arrests were a clear violation of Principle 23 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which guarantees that lawyers are entitled to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. In particular, they have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights.

On 8 February 2024, lawyers Nazan Betül Vangölü Koza?a?l?, Didem Baydar Ünsal, Seda ?arald? and Berrak Ça?lar, all members of the ÇHD (Progressive Lawyers’ Association), were arrested in the wake of an armed attack on Ca?layan Courthouse on 6 February, which left three killed (including the two assailants) and several police officers wounded. Two of the arrested lawyers are accused of participating in the attack, the other two of membership of a terrorist organization. The lawyers, while acknowledging that they have been representing the perpetrators in other cases, deny all accusations. According to their defense lawyers, there is no evidence in the case file at all. Three of the four lawyers remain in pre-trial detention. There are strong indications that this amounts to unacceptable identification of lawyers with their clients’ cause, in violation of Principle 18 of the Basic Principles.

Another example is the case instigated against 25 lawyers, all members of ÖHD, in Diyarbak?r. On 25 April 2023, they were arbitrarily arrested while polices raided their homes and offices. On 15 February 2024 the first hearing against one of these lawyers, Süleyman ?ahin, took place. Lawyers for Lawyers monitored this hearing. In the upcoming months, more hearings will take place in the case against Mr. ?ahin and other lawyers of this group. Lawyers for Lawyers believes that these lawyers are being prosecuted because of their legitimate professional activities and will follow these cases closely.



Statements on Lawyers’ Day in Turkey