9 bar associations to boycott new judicial year opening at presidential palace

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President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (2nd L), Turkish Grand National Assembly Speaker Binali Yildirim (L) and Turkish Council of State President Zerrin Gungor (3rd L) attend a symposium at Beştepe People's Convention and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkey on October 24, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Nine bar associations across Turkey have turned down an invitation from the Supreme Court of Appeals to the opening ceremony of the new judicial year at the presidential palace in Ankara on the grounds that attendance would damage the independence of the judiciary, Turkish media reports said on Friday.

The top court sent the invitations to the bar associations for the opening ceremony of the new judicial year, which takes place on Sept. 2.

The bar associations of İstanbul, İzmir, Muğla, Antalya, Adana, Aydın, Ordu, Bursa and Van provinces decided to boycott the ceremony in letters they sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

In his letter İzmir Bar Association President Özkan Yücel said, “In order not to be a part of a judicial system in which the public has not the slightest confidence, we advise you also to liberate yourself.”

The İstanbul Bar Association said in its letter that it would be impossible for them to attend the ceremony at the presidential palace because this would mean a rejection of all the values they espouse, including those of democracy, law and justice.

The independence of the Turkish judiciary came further into question when the new judicial year opening ceremony held at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace turned into a display of judicial support for Erdoğan in September 2016.

During the ceremony prosecutors and judges stood up and applauded Erdoğan when he entered the hall and when he finished his address.

Erdoğan’s government is accused of taking the judiciary under its absolute control and punishing dissenting judicial members either by expelling or arresting them.

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