European lawyers, activists to host events to draw attention to difficulties of Turkish colleagues

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An inside view from the Turkey's biggest court house, Çağlayan. PHOTO: Hürriyet

Attorneys and activists from at least 16 European cities including İstanbul on Thursday, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, will organize various events to draw public attention to difficulties lawyers in Turkey are facing.

One of the organizers, Stuart Russell, a retired law professor and judge living in France, told Turkish Minute in an e-mail exchange that “[we] are continually outraged by the unrelenting repression against our colleagues in Turkey.”

Since a coup attempt in 2016, some 1,500 attorneys have been prosecuted, with nearly 600 of them incarcerated, according to the Arrested Lawyers platform.

Two hundred sixteen attorneys were sentenced to a total of 1,361 years in prison for membership in a terrorist organization.

According to Ankara Bar Association Chairman Hakan Canduran, these lawyers were put under investigation in the first place because some of their clients were terrorism suspects.

Canduran also pointed out that during a two-year state of emergency that was lifted in July, the government issued dozens of decrees to prevent attorneys from defending clients who were charged with terrorism.

Some of the arrested lawyers stated they were subjected to ill treatment and torture during detention.

Five lawyers jailed in Turkey who were detained in 2017 will go on a hunger strike on Thursday to raise awareness of the unlawfulness they have experienced.

“We call upon the Turkish authorities to immediately release all lawyers detained, to unconditionally and immediately drop all charges against lawyers and to cease their orchestrated campaign against the legal profession,” said Russell, who is also editor of the Defend Lawyers blog.

To reach officials, the groups will hold protests in front of Turkish consular buildings in Paris, London, Brussels, Hamburg and The Hague.

There will also be gatherings in Bordeaux, Rome, Venice, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lyon and Oslo and a press conference in Vienna.

Others will also hold meetings in New York City and Vancouver to discuss the problems of Turkish attorneys.

A protest will take place at İstanbul’s largest courthouse, Çağlayan, on Thursday with the participation of attorneys and activists from İzmir province.

“We hope that the Day of the Endangered Lawyer will demonstrate worldwide support and solidarity for our embattled colleagues in Turkey,” Russell said.

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