Turkey to allow alternative professional organisations

The Turkish government is preparing wideranging legislation to restructure professional organisations in the country, Hürriyet reported on Friday.

The plans come after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), accusing its chairwoman of links to terrorism, and follows an amendment to Turkey’s law on bar associations, which allowed more than one to be established in any given province.

The new law will introduce restrictions on areas of acitivity, revenue sources and election criteria.

Chambers of engineers, architects and other professionals will be restricted to “activities in line with their purpose,” a move that aims to “stop professional organisations from acting as headquarters for enemies of democracy and the state,” according to deputy chairman of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Feti Yıldız.

The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) has traditionally been poltiically active, leading campaigns for peace and democracy alongside the TTB and Turkey’s two biggest workers’ unions confederations, KESK and DİSK. Among its goals are furthering democratisation in the country, and advocating in the public interest.

Restricting revenue streams may limit such activities in the future, critics say, while introducing new election criteria and allowing the creation of multiple associations, is likely to lead to increased government influence.

The government is “pushing politics on doctors,” opposition deputy Özgür Özel said in a tweet, adding: “Doctors don’t flash the rabia sign or the wolf sign,” a refrence to hand signals used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its coalition partner the MHP.