Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Kocaeli deputy and member of the Parliamentary Human Rights Inquiry Commission, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, was targeted by Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies after he brought up the topic of invasive “strip-searching”, which has been applied in police stations and prisons across Turkey.
On 12 September 2020, Gergerlioğlu revealed the harassment and strip-searching of 30 university students in the Uşak province of Turkey. However, Uşak governor Funda Karabıyık denied that strip-searching took place in the Uşak Police Department and filed a criminal complaint against Gergerlioğlu. AKP group deputy chairperson Özlem Zengin also denied it and blamed Gergerlioğlu for terrorising the parliament.
However, many women started to share their experiences as victims of strip-searching procedures and wrote their own accounts on social media.
17 yaşında gözaltına alındım tüm kıyafetlerim ve sütyenim dahi parçalandı 2 gün boyunca fiziksel tacize uğradım işkence gördüm ve bu şekilde yarı çıplak bir şekilde mahkemeye çıkarıldım. İşkenceyi saklamak için tutuklandım. https://t.co/SnyrVtIvBz
— dilo.cann🍀 (@dilanmollaahme1) December 18, 2020
Gergerlioğlu answered the accusitions against him by saying, “Those who use these practices are not ashamed, but we are terrorists”. Gergerlioğlu spoke to Mesopotamia News Agency about the incident and said that strip-searching is common in Turkey. “For years people have been exposed to this torture”, he said.
“Men, women, children, and even babies have been exposed to humiliating strip-searches while entering prisons, and after we revealed this fact women spoke up about harassment in prisons. We started a hashtag campaign on social media against strip-searching. Over 200 messages were shared about this problem that was hidden for years. We have seen now that Turkey should be rid of this shame”.
Gergerlioğlu also stated that they will submit a research proposal to the parliament within the week to investigate all these complaints. “We will fight to end the ‘strip- search’ torture”.
Calling on everyone to be sensitive about this issue, Gergerlioğlu also said, “Whatever they say, together, we will end this embarrassing practice. We will make it happen”.