On January 24, 1977, five lawyers were murdered by Franco supporters in Madrid. January 24 has been chosen to be the “Day of the Endangered Lawyer” while it is dedicated to a different country every year. On Thursday, January 24, 2019, which is dedicated Turkey this year, we came together with our colleagues in order to resist against any threat towards the legal profession in Galatasaray Square and we marched to Istanbul Bar Association where President of Istanbul Durakoğlu addressed to the lawyers. In his address, Durakoğlu referred to the background of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. President Durakoğlu went on saying:
“Today is rightfully dedicated to Turkey. Turkey has never experienced such a period of time in which lawyers are endangered to such an extent. We have been the primary target of the state of emergency rule that follows the already-severe period we have been going through as lawyers. We have been threatened, battered, taken out of courtrooms, we have been detained, we have been murdered, each one of us being Tahir Elçi. On that very day, we have lost one of the trivet of judiciary.
In Turkey, lawyers have been persecuted and arrested as they have been identified with their clients. As in the case against the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD), they have been arrested with electronic signatures soon after they have been released by wet signatures.
Just because they have made an effective defense, just because they have said something different contrary to what is expected by the Court, they are not only expelled from the courtroom, but also taken under custody and detained the next day.
We have never been afraid of threats. We have not cowered, we have not surrendered, we have never obeyed, my people! We have survived coups, martial courts, state security courts, courts with special authority, we have survived state of emergency. We have always resisted. We have resisted for you. Don’t forget us, my people!
“Don’t forget us, my people!” said Uğur Mumcu. He was murdered by dark forces on January 24 in 1993. We remember him, our colleague, with respect.
Yes, my people, don’t forget us! Our struggle is not only for money. Undoubtedly, we are struggling to earn a living. However, our profession is not limited to that. Ours is inherently a struggle for democracy… It is for your right to legal remedies... It is for justice, which we can never forsake… It is the state governed by the rule of law for which we struggle... It is for you to live humanely, which is only possible through an independent judiciary… It is to achieve a society based on human rights... We suffer in order for you to have legal security... If we are in danger, it is only for you… Don’t forget us...
If we give up, we will give in the judiciary. If we give up, you will be left with no legal security. If we yield, you will be lack of all possible means to express your rightfulness. We are breath in voice, but if we remain voiceless, you will be short of breath. Do not forget us…
We announce to the world that we will never bow to oppression. We will not be intimidated by any threat. We will not cower. We will always look out for democracy and human rights under the guidance of the stories which we grow up with. We will always keep our inherent determination for struggle alive. Because we know it for sure: Lawyers are breath in voice, but if we remain voiceless, citizens will remain breathless. We will never remain voiceless, we are lawyers. We are lawyers and anyone will need us one day.”
Following the address of President Durakoğlu, President of Adana Bar Association Atty. Veli Küçük, President of Antalya Bar Association Atty. Polat Balkan, President of Aydın Bar Association Atty. Gökhan Bozkurt, President of Bursa Bar Association Atty. Gürkan Altun , President of Diyarbakır Bar Association Atty. Cihan Aydın , President of Hatay Bar Association Atty. Ekrem Dönmez, President of İzmir Bar Association Atty. Özkan Yücel, President of Mersin Bar Association Atty. Bilgin Yeşilboğaz, President of Tekirdağ Bar Association Atty. Sedat Tekneci, Vice-President of Antalya Bar Association Atty.Cenk Soyer, Vice-President of Gaziantep Bar Association Atty. Bülent Duman addressed to the lawyers.