After Turkey’s Supreme Court judges decided to release a jailed member of parliament, a lower court took the matter to an appeals court. In response, Supreme Court of Appeal judges issued criminal charges against Supreme Court judges in an unprecedented initiative. As a result, a constitutional crisis has arisen in the country. On Friday, bar associations across Turkey responded to the dire situation with protests, marches and legal action.
Opposition MPs have launched a campaign called “Justice Watch”. They have decided not to leave the Parliament building until the matter is taken up for discussion on the floor of Parliament. Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has added to the unrest by supporting the lower court initiative.
Turkish Workers’ Party (TIP) MP Kan Atale, representing the southern province of Hatay, has been imprisoned since April last year. At the time, a local court charged him with “aiding and abetting attempts to overthrow the government” by participating in the 2013 Gezi Park protests. It was the largest protest against Erdogan’s government in Turkish history.
But not following the decision of the high court, the local court first took Atal’s case to the country’s highest appellate court, the Court of Cassation. This court filed criminal charges against the 9 judges mentioned by the Supreme Court.
The move apparently violated Turkey’s constitution. As a result, many people, including opposition politicians, immediately erupted into protest.