The foundation of the People’s Law Office
The People’s Law Office has never since it’s foundation in 1989 seen the profession of a lawyer as a possibility to earn money.
The office rather was founded with the intention to create a new understanding of the occupation of a lawyer but also of an intellectual.
Unorganized, impartially jurists, afraid of missing the responsibility of being an intellectual shall be replaced with such, aware of the contradictions of society and the working environment. They shall develop a perspective and put it into practice.
Jurists should stand side by side and be organized with progressive forces and create an awareness.
Since the lawyers stand on the side of law and justice and because of their historical task, they cannot be impartially.
Raids and Arrests at January 18th 2013
At January 18th 2013 a law office was raided. Due to the legislation of Turkey, a law office cannot be raided without the presence of a public prosecutor.
This was ignored totally. The police force opened the door and stormed the office.
In a law office the confidentiality of client files has to be respected. Those cannot be seized.
Otherwise every law office could be raided by public prosecutors to find out everything about the defense strategies of the lawyers.
This also was ignored. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the lawyers where arrested with means of torture.
The police of the AKP regime was terrorizing the whole neighborhood, five more revolutionaries where arrested, democratic establishments where raided, people got arrested and tortured.
It was all about sending a message: “shut up and fit in!”
Nine lawyers of the People’s Law Office and the CHD (Progressive Lawyers Association) have been arrested during the raids.
These arrests caused an intense public debate. Because of this, Turkish prime minister Erdogan and other state-run offices, state ministers and the mainstream-media where forced to attack the lawyers with defamations.
The press continuously published lies about the jurists.
National and international establishments, lawyers associations, intellectuals and artists as well as broad parts of the population articulated their displeasure. Everybody knew that the raids where due to the professional practice, the tireless struggle of the lawyers. The Erdogan-administration tried to undermine this solidarity by lies.
The chairman of the CHD (Progressive Lawyers Association) was at the time of the raids in Syria due to professional reasons. At the moment he learned about the raids he returned to Istanbul at 20th of January 2013. Even though he knew about the arrest warrant against him, he returned to Turkey voluntarily and even announced time and date of his arrival, he was arrested immediately after his plane landed.
The indictment was finished at July 18th 2013 and 22 lawyers are being charged. The upbeat of the legal proceedings was from 24th-26th of December while some of the lawyers where still imprisoned.
THE CHARGES WERE ALL RELATED TO THE PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES OF LAWYERS.
The lawyers where charged with participating in “terrorist activities” by pursuing the profession of a lawyer. The People’s Law Office and the Progressive Lawyers Association where raided only because of cases they where defending.
Which activities disturbed the government that much?
One year prior to the raids a campaign was launched that disturbed the state a lot. For example seminars where given about how to behave in police custody. Legal steps where taken against policemen that tortured people to death to press charges. Human rights violations against prisoners where logged carefully.
The hotline “Police, Help” was launched against torture and violence at the police station.
This especially maddened the police since the emergency number to call the police is known by the same name “Police, Help”. The hotline was launched for victims of police brutality.
When the operation started, national TV and newspapers close to the government published stories about “lawyers of critical legal proceedings arrested”.
The arrests where criticized above all by the Turkish Association of Lawyers and all other lawyer associations and advocate clubs and in the parliamentary opposition.
The public prosecutor had to give a statement, the prime minister produced lies above lies against the lawyers to justify himself.
The lawyers where equated with their clients. The fact that they represented in the legal proceedings against the DHKP-C, took care of the files of their clients and visited them in jail was charged to them.
In the files of the court there is nothing to be taken serious, no determined evidence what so ever.
The lawyers where arrested due to insinuations. The presented “proof ” contradict each other in every way.
These are the professional fields of the People’s Law Office:
-Help workers demand their payment if their unions have been raided and who are beaten on the streets
-Students who have been exmatriculated, who face disciplinary procedures and cannot study anymore
-Persons or families killed or crippled by police brutality
-Victims of violence and torture in police stations and prisons
-The Kurdish people, drowning in its own blood, Kurdish politicians that are being silenced, Kurdish lawyers hat can’t pursue their profession
-Environmental lawsuits, since the beautiful country of Turkey is made uninhabitable by following projects: hydroelectric plants, goldmines in which cyancali is used, huge cement factories, nuclear power plants
-Victims of gentrification
-Women that could have become victims of honor murders or suffered injuries, victims of sexism and violence
-Hrant Dink, murdered six years ago, victim of ethical and religious discrimination, whose murderers are still free
-Socialists, revolutionaries, progressives
-Suppression, repression, victims of criminalization due to opposing the government
The Lawyers of the People have condemned fascism!
The start of the trial has been between 24th and 26th of December 2013 in Silivri.
Next to many representatives of NGO’s 40 delegates
For the very beginning, the CHD chairmen Selcuk Kozagacli took the word and wrote history with his opening speech. Many attendants of the trial compared him to Dimitroff or Fidel Castro. from foreign countries attended the trial.The indicted where represented by more than 500 lawyers. Inside the huge courtroom the judges seemed surrounded.
He talked about the philosophy of case law and explained the penalties on the bases of “intimidation and dressage”. ”You can’t train us, by locking us away. Nor can you scare off the attendants in this courtroom. Never in history there has been a trial with this many lawyers attending. The judges better get used to lawyers that won’t be intimidated or trained.”
He talked about examples out of ancient Greek tragedies (Antigone) and explained how the court itself was in a tragic situation. Addressing the judges he said: ”Is it a crime to massacre revolutionaries and bury them in mass graves, or is it a crime to fight for their remains being removed of the mass graves and getting a proper cemetery?”
On the 2nd day of trial (December 25th 2013) the trial has been continued with the presence of hundreds of lawyers.
The detained lawyers entered the courtroom with the slogan “freedom to the defense” They where welcomed by the trial watchers with standing ovations and the slogan “We want justice”.
Selcuk Kozagli continued where he stopped. “The eyes of Justitia are blinded, her sword is blunt and she has
lost her sack of gold. This gold is now in the hands of some oligarchs. What do you have left to offer to the people? What except the police, batons, teargas defends your justice?” He quoted Karl Marx: “In every article there are two meanings. One for the House of Lords and one for the House of Commons.” Afterward he explained that Turkish justice is used differently for the oligarchy and for the people. Kozagacli emphasized that he didn’t expect any justice. He furthermore explained why he was speaking in front of a court that, in his eyes, has no legitimacy: “I started my occupation as a lawyer after the massacre in Sivas. Afterward the massacres of Gazi and those of the prisons followed. It is one thing to not believe into your laws and regulations and a different thing to fight for our rights that you have to except. We are not here because we are expecting a fair trial.
We are here so you understand the judiciary. Understand how we understand the profession of lawyers. For this reason we are explaining ourselves here.”
After Selcuk Kozagacli finished his speech the other accused read their defending statements.
Lawyers set free
After a law change the jurisdiction couldn’t be determined and the lawyers were set free until further notice, therefore all detained where set free in March 21st 2014
HHB celebrates its 25th anniversary
On 29th of June 2014 the lawyers celebrated their 25th anniversary during an open-air-concert of Grup Yorum in Harbiye. The concert was dedicated to Fuat Erdogan, a lawyer of the People’s Law Office who was murdered in 1994. With red scarfs they sung Ciao Bella. Many lawyers gave speeches. 6000 people attended the concert.
The lawyers became also involved after the biggest mining tragedy of the country in SOMA.
On May 17th the CHD chairmen Selcuk Kozagacli was awarded the Hans-Litten-Award by his German colleagues of the VDJ (Association of Democratic Jurists).
Due to his ban for leaving the country he couldn’t accept the award personally.
Also a planned video conference didn’t work out.
Kozagacli was with other colleagues of his at the site of accident in Soma/Manisa.
Firstly they where surrounded by the fascist gray wolves at their housing and on the following day they where arrested and tortured.
Instead of a live-connection with Selcuk the people at the ceremony saw pictures of a detained Selcuk laying on the ground. During the torture his arm was broken. But nothing could stop him from investigating in Soma and to advise the population in juristic questions and to initiate a trial.
The lawyers of HHB once again stand on the side of the people against the oppression.