January 24, 2019
Today, the global bar groups rallied in support of the rule of law on the “International Day of the Endangered Lawyer.” The international effort is designed to draw attention to the thousands of lawyers and judges killed or imprisoned each year as they fight for basic legal rights in countries from China to Iran to Venezuela. However, no bar is more devastated than the one in Turkey where thousands of lawyers have been imprisoned and tortured for fighting the authoritarian regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite the praise from our president, Erdogan has continued a comprehensive campaign against the free press and political dissidents. This campaign however first required the elimination of thousands of lawyers to eradicate the rule of law to make way for his brutal religious-based authoritarian rule.
We previously discussed how Turkey’s rising dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was likely to use the failed military coup to complete his objective to become a virtual dictator (backed by Islamist parties). That dire prediction appears to be fast becoming true with a roundup of thousands and the declaration of a state of emergency. Turkish academics have also been banned from leaving the country as well as the replacement of academic deans. Of course, Erdogan has offered his usual Orwellian rationization for the three-month state of emergency as necessary to protect civil liberties by suspending them “to eliminate the threat to democracy in our country, the rule of law, and the rights and freedom of our citizens.” With that, and the support of his Islamist allies who passed sweeping new powers for the budding Sultan, Erdogan suspended civil liberties in Turkey.
The impact on the Turkish bar has been horrific.
Udine, Camera Penale