Tens of Turkish Bar Associations have refused to join the 2019 Court Year Opening Ceremony which will be held in the Presidential Palace. The Bars represent more than 80% of all Turkish lawyers. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plans to celebrate the opening of the judicial year with a glamorous ceremony on September 2.

Since 2014 Erdoğan’s regime imprisoned hundreds of thousands of citizens, including lawyers, journalists, teachers and academics.

On July Celal Uzunkaya who is general director of the Turkey’s General Directorate of Security (National Police) admitted that 540,000 citizens have been detained on grounds of their alleged cohesion or connection with the Gulen Movement, structure which is outlawed by the Turkish Government after the coup attempt.

The European Parliament has expressed on many occasions its serious concern regarding judicial independence and the principle of separation of powers. The situation of human rights and media freedom is deteriorating in Turkey.

The opening ceremony at the presidential palace was celebrated by the Turkish President in 2016 following the alleged coup.

According to the Bar Associations the ceremony should take place at the Supreme Court building. However Erdogan’ plans are considered by the Bars as another violation of the judiciary’s independence.

“These past years have seen judicial independence being seriously undermined… The judiciary is under pressure from the executive,” Mehmet Durakoğlu, head of the Istanbul bar association, told AFP on Sunday.

“Under these circumstances, we would expect the ceremony for the opening of the judicial year to take place at a venue that represents the separation of powers, rather than a political location,”  Durakoğlu added.