Annoyed by the domestic and international reactions to the death of lawyer Embru Timtik after a prolonged hunger strike, Tayyip Erdogan said that not only will he not back down in matters of justice, but he will continue his interventions to control the lawyer’s body. “We should discuss whether methods such as expulsion from the profession should be introduced for lawyers,” the Turkish president said in a speech to judges and prosecutors in Ankara, demanding that the license be revoked from those lawyers who “cooperate with terrorists”.
Embru Timtik was a member of the Modern Bar Association, a left-wing organization accused of maintaining close ties to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist party DHKP-C. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and died on August 27 in a hospital in Istanbul after a 238-day hunger strike. Her funeral was attended by lawyers wearing robes, while the Istanbul Bar Association hung a poster of her outside its headquarters. The EU expressed its grief over the lawyer’s death, noting that she was the fourth prisoner to die this year after a hunger strike.
“The mission of the judiciary is not to defend cruelty, but to defend justice,” Erdogan told his critics, adding: “Just as a thief cannot defend a robber, so should those associated with terrorist organizations to defend terrorists “. Going even further, he launched an acute attack on the country’s major bar associations. “It is very painful that these associations, which should be institutions of justice, have been turned into the backyard of terrorist organizations,” he said.
Many bar associations have harshly criticized the Turkish president on human rights issues. In an effort to weaken them, the government instituted changes to the structure of bar associations months ago, allowing multiple clubs to operate in each city. Erdogan’s speech yesterday heralds new changes in the same direction.
Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities announced yesterday the arrest of the head of the Islamic State in Turkey. This is Mahmut Ozden, the “emir” of the organization in the country, who was arrested in the province of Adana along with three of his accomplices. According to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Ozden had received orders from the Islamic State leadership in Syria and Iraq to carry out attacks inside Turkish territory in the near future. The pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah reported that law enforcement authorities had found evidence that Ozden and his accomplices were planning political kidnappings and other terrorist acts. Computers, documents, weapons and ammunition were seized during the operation that led to Ozden’s arrest.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks in Turkey, including one in Istanbul’s nightclub in 2017, which killed 39 people. In July, law enforcement authorities arrested 27 suspects on charges of plotting an attack in Istanbul.