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Metin Feyzioglu, the President of the Bar Association Must Resign

Metin Feyzioglu, the President of the Bar Association Must Resign

The government’s decision to remove “Turkey” from the name of the National Bar Association, and to end the association’s monopoly was not taken hastily.

We should not regard this decision as a sanction against the political leanings of the members of the Bar Association. If that were the case, the government would not have waited for five, ten years as they have.

It is the association’s fault that they acted as a political opposition rather than a concerned authority fighting for the needs and reputation of its members. First, they pushed the lawyers out by not taking them in for the annual openings for the judicial year. They followed up by excluding the legal mechanisms focused on solving problems. They have acted in a manner that contributed to the derogatory propaganda against law as a profession, rather than standing against it.

They haven’t contributed to the profession in the least. To the contrary, they caused all that lawyers fought for years to dissipate. They wouldn’t be more detrimental even if there were no lawyers present on their board.

The primary person responsible for this current situation is Metin Feyzioglu. The most benevolent thing he can do at this point is to resign from the association and carry on with his profession outside the tension and the reckoning that’s going on.

We, the lawyers, are the secondary persons responsible. We have not been able to agree and implement an anonymous plan to overthrow this management that has not, once, worked towards the betterment of our needs and reputations. Granted, we have some justified reasons for not having done so, but in spite of that, we could have pursued a more active struggle to show that we did not approve this administration.

The government itself is the tertiary party accountable. For the past fifteen years, they haven’t reformed what is possibly the worst representative system in the world.  We vote to elect the President directly, but we still do not have a system in place that would allow lawyers to participate in the election of the president and the governing bodies of the Bar Association. The system that we use to choose our management is the same that was used during the election of MPs during the single-party period of the past: a system that keeps the primary voters outside by applying a run-off election, one that does not tolerate diversity, one that rewards a monotypic delegation. While you can be a presidential candidate once you come up with 100,000 signatures, you cannot do so for a position in the Bar Association.

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Regardless of the prevailing legal order, lawyers could have mastered a management approach focused on the professional agenda of lawyers and protecting the diversity of its professional organizations. Rather than that, they chose to administer the Bar Association as a liberated political zone.

We have warned them many times. It fell on deaf ears.

And look at where we ended up. I wrote many times: Bar Association should focus on vocational issues of lawyers. Do not turn the association into a political dugout. Do not act like nervous players waiting to jump at the opportunity to enter the game while it is going on.

Do not assume the role of a commentator on page-six events in TV variety shows.

Do not run political campaigns during referendums and elections and then try to finance them with the dues that the lawyers pay to them out of their hard-earned cash. Do not be the butt of the joke by illegitimating referendum results for which 25 million people vote, while you yourself have been elected with 200.

Let the lawyers who pursue a dignified life feel the presence of a professional organization that will stand by them when times get tough.

Do not visit a prisoner held by claims of treason and say to them, “You may embrace me like I’m your wife, but do not get too carried away.” Or do what you want, but do not do it under the disguise of a representative of lawyers. Apologize in the name of the lawyers that you represent who have supported alleged terrorists when they flee overseas and run anti-Turkey campaigns once they’re released. Act like a professional organization. Do not destroy the reputations of your members.

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All these were said in vain.

We said, “Once you ruin your reputation, the lawyers who profess their vocation with dignity and who have no other concerns other than the sustenance of their profession end up paying for it. The profession, as a who, will suffer for your actions.”

You replied by pointing to a few dubious statutes claiming that your actions were warranted by law.

To which we said, “The laws do not warrant you any of this. And even if they did, you are risking the reputation and the future of your fellow lawyers.”

You insisted on merely what the law said.

Well, if law is the only source of legitimacy, her you go.

Don’t complain now.

You were warned about what your actions would lead to.

It feels like the joke with the headstone that said “I told you I was dying. You didn’t believe me. See?”

Originally published in Turkish in

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