The Turkish parliament has stripped Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu of his status as a member of parliament, Mesopotamia Agency reports.
Turkey’s Court of Cessation sentenced Gergerlioğlu to one year and 10 months in prison in February 2018 on charges of “spreading terrorism propaganda”. The concerns for this conviction was related to a tweet he shared on Twitter in 2016, in which he expressed his thoughts on the peace process between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state.
In 2018, Gergerlioğlu was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on charges of “terrorism propaganda” for this same social media tweet. The case was later taken to the Court of Cassation, which is the highest appeals court for civil and criminal cases.
The court’s decision for Gergerlioğlu was read at the Turkey’s parliament which then led his status as a member of parliament be stripped.
Having been constantly targeted by the members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as he was a very active member of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission of the Turkish Parliament and was constantly bringing up serious human rights violations in Turkey to the governing party, AKP. Gergerlioğlu has been specifically forensically focused on revealing the serious and systematic violations of human rights, forced dissapearances and strip searches during the police custody and in prisons and highlighting the rights violations against political prisoners.
Protest from the HDP MPs
Protests were staged inside the Turkish Assembly before the decision to strip Gergerlioğlu of his MP status was announced.
“We will not be silenced, we are not afraid, we will not obey,” shouted the HDP MPs.
HDP MPs also attended the session at the parliament wearing T-Shirts, emblazoned with the words, “Gergerlioğlu is the conscience of Turkey”, “Gergerlioğlu did not remain silent to killing of women”, “Gergerlioğlu always stood by those who sought for their rights” written on them.
As the session was paused for 10 minutes after the decision was read, the HDP MPs continued their protests with slogans and applauses. Protests reportedly continue.
Reactions from the main opposition CHP
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also reacted against the decision to strip Gergerlioğlu of his MP status.
“CHP accepts that the rule of law as prior to all. We will not remain silent by whoever and to whoever injustice is imposed. The primary duty of the parliament is to maintain the dignity of the law and the members of parliament,” said Engin Altay, the CHP group deputy chair-person.
Gergerlioğlu: I am not going anywhere, life is resistance!
Protesting the decision with the raising his hands showing the “victory sign”, Gergerlioğlu said, “I have been elected with 90-thousand votes of the people of Kocaeli. I am the member of parliament of the HDP. I am not going anywhere. We will not surrender to those anti-demcratic implementations. Everybody should know that fellowship of the peoples cannot be prevented. Long live the fellowship of the peoples! Life is resistance!”
Gergerlioğlu also stressed that his social media post which demanded “peace” has been punished by the court.
“This decision is against the Constitution. I do not recognise this decision. I have just shared a peaceful tweet. All my life has passed with the struggle for peace. I have been punished, because I have suggested a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem. I keep saying long live the fellowship of the Turkish and Kurdish people and I will keep saying that no matter how much they try to dismiss us with such sloppy decisions,” he said.
Who is Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu?
A medical doctor and a prominent human rights defender, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu have been to Chair of the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed (known as MAZLUMDER).
Having been dismissed from the medical profession by a decree (KHK) issued under the state of emergency on 7 January 2017, Gergerlioğlu has been defending the rights of people who were dismissed from their jobs by presidental decrees following the July 2016 coup attempt.
Gergerlioğlu was elected as the HDP’s MP for Kocaeli in 2018 general elections in Turkey.
Gergerlioğlu recently brought the “strip searches” imposed on 30 women in a police station in Turkey onto the agenda of the Turkish parliament. Chief of Police and some police officers filed a criminal complaint against Gergerlioğlu.
“I also want to make a call to the judiciary from here. Indeed, this man is a terrorist,” said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in a statement targeting Gergerlioğlu.
Gergerlioğlu has been advocating for the rights of all those people, who have been mistreated and tortured during police custody as well as the people who were attempted to be kidnapped or the families whose relatives were forcedly dissappeared.