A court in Turkey has sentenced Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP to 2 years 6 months in prison on terror charges. Turkey’s parliament also stripped Gergerlioglu of his MP status today.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a written statement yesterday urging Turkey to not expel Gergerlioglu from the Parliament. Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW said “Jailing Gergerlioglu would look like a reprisal by the Erdogan government for his brave and vocal stance in support of thousands of victims of human rights violations.”
Gergerlioglu’s conviction is based on his social media post in 2016 where he called for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.
“Everybody in Turkey sees that ‘The King is Naked!’. They want to punish me for saying this out loud. (…) I am proud of my struggle as a human rights defender.” said prominent MP in a news programme that was broadcast on CommUnity Web TV on 1 March.
Gergerlioglu also stated that he is “an antimilitarist human rights defender” and fights against ill-treatment in prisons, strip searches and enforced disappearances. “As a physician, I defend the right to life and as a human rights advocate I promote peace. These do not suit those in power” said the MP and stressed that people are aware that this fast-track conviction is a political verdict.
Gergerlioglu has said that he will resist what he called a “coup” against the assembly. He shouted in Kurdish shortly after the speaker read out the court ruling at the parliament “Biji biratiya gelan. Berxwedan jiyane!” (Long Live International Solidarity. Resistance is Life!)
Baroness Christine Blower, a Labour peer and SPOT Steering Committee member commented “I understand that the Turkish Parliament has today expelled the Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu MP. This is indeed an unacceptable occurrence. As I understand it, they have sentenced him to two and half years in prison on terror charges simply for retweeting a news article from a legal news organisation. It cannot be right that in a country claiming to be a democracy that people are charged, imprisoned and expelled from parliament on the basis of retweeting material from legal sources.”
SPOT calls for solidarity in the fight against the politically led judiciary targeting and imprisoning progressive forces in Turkey.