Three lawyers from southeastern Turkey have quit the Turkish Bars Association (TBB) over its failure to hold a meeting over concerns that it is not defending the rule of law.
The Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Thursday that the three announced their resignation after a call for an extraordinary general assembly was rejected by the administration of the union.
Over 60,000 lawyers from 78 Turkish bar associations are represented by the TBB, an umbrella organization for Turkish lawyers.
Van Bar Association’s Dogan Ilhan, Diyarbakir Bar Association’s Vedat Alan and Mustafa Vefa from the Sanliurfa Bar Association announced their resignation from the TBB in a joint statement released on Thursday .
“We indicate that we cannot carry out any work under the umbrella of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations until the administration adopts a mentality that defends the rule of law and that struggles for human rights under all conditions,” they said in the written statement.
The three lawyers also criticized the TBB administration’s recent decision not to hold an extraordinary general assembly although it was demanded by more than 10 bar associations as the union’s by-laws suggest.
They underlined that the union’s move to reject the demand for an extraordinary general assembly was “arbitrary” and “legally unacceptable.”
The call for the assembly came from 12 bar associations, which included TBB’s Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir branches, after the union’s head Metin Feyzioglu’s pro-government stance became increasingly evident.
Previously an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, Feyzioglu has recently come under fire for shifting his position and developing a stance in harmony with Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in recent years.
The TBB head has been criticised for not speaking out against what the dissidents view as open violations of the rule of law and a total lack of independence in the Turkish judiciary.
During the two-year state of emergency that followed 2016’s failed coup attempt, thousands of Turkey’s legal professionals were purged from the judiciary through government decrees.
Critics argue that Turkey’s judicial independence has weakened after the purge, with the courts being under pressure from Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AKP to rule in their favor.