Bar associations condemn Erdoğan’s continued targeting of Istanbul Convention

Eight bar associations from Turkey’s southeast issued a joint statement against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments on the Istanbul Convention, urging his supporters to “react” to anybody who defends the European treaty against gendered violence.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is “a policy statement, a roadmap, and a lifeline for women”, the bar associations said in Wednesday’s joint statement, Mezopotamya Agency reported.

The president is “working to criminalise the Istanbul Convention and those who defend it”, they said, adding that Erdoğan had been prime minister when the treaty was signed in Istanbul in 2011.

Turkey withdrew from the convention in March last year, via an executive order signed by Erdoğan. Women’s rights groups have maintained that the order was unlawful and that the parliament should have voted on the decision to withdraw from an international treaty.

The bar associations of Diyarbakır, Batman, Bingöl, Van, Mardin, Muş, Şırnak and Urfa provinces said Erdoğan’s order “is a violation of the principles of the security of law, respect for acquired rights, and the impartiality of proceedings”.

“We are reminding the president that nobody can issue orders or give suggestions to courts, which are to remain independent and impartial, and calling on him to end his discourse that aims to put pressure on women who demand legal aid as per the Istanbul Convention,” the bar associations said.

“Our women should react to whoever forms a sentence beginning with the Istanbul Convention,” Erdoğan said on Monday, as he spoke against opposition deputy Lütfü Türkkan.

“Will you stand up only if a woman of your organisations is insulted?” Erdoğan said, addressing women’s rights groups.

“Why do you not take to the streets when the sister of a martyr of ours is insulted? How long will you ignore this attack on the sister of our martyr?” Erdoğan continued.

On Nov. 5, centre-right opposition Good Party’s (İYİP) Türkkan was caught on video using an expletive as he spoke with a citizen, who said he was the brother of a victim of terrorism. Türkkan later resigned from his duties as group deputy chairman of the party, but members of government and pro-government media have continued to call for him to step down as a member of parliament.

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