Turkish lawyers stage sit-in protest near capital

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The heads of several Turkish lawyers’ associations on Monday began a sit-in demonstration after police blocked the group from marching to the capital, Ankara.

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The heads of Bar Associations from various cities embarked on a march to Ankara last week in their robes to protest government plans to amend laws regulating lawyers and their associations, including the way they elect the association’s regional chairs.

The lawyers say the changes are aimed at reducing the clout of the associations, many of which are outspoken critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Police blocked the group at a main highway leading into the city, briefly sparking scuffles between the lawyers and officers.

The lawyers — who had aimed to reach the mausoleum of the Turkish Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — then began a sit-in protest, HaberTurk news channel reported. Ankara-based lawyers who arrived to greet the arriving group also joined the protest.