Leading MEPs condemn Turkish parliament’s decision to expel pro-Kurdish deputy known for human rights activism

The European Parliament Standing Rapporteur for Turkey Nacho Sánchez Amor and Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee Sergey Lagodinsky issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the Turkish parliament’s decision to expel Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and his imminent incarceration.

In their statement Amor and Lagodinsky said they “firmly condemn the decision to strip human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu of his parliamentary seat and parliamentary immunity on 17 March 2021, and his upcoming subsequent jailing.”

The statement described his conviction, expulsion and expected incarceration because of a social media post as “a severe violation of his human rights and another serious step that further undermines the trust in Turkey‘s parliamentary democracy.”

Gergerlioğlu is a prominent human rights activist and a member of parliament since 2018 for the HDP, a left-wing party with majority Kurdish support. One of the most outspoken critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government’s appalling record on human rights, he was found guilty in February 2018 of “spreading terrorist propaganda” on the basis of a 2016 social media post that did not advocate violence.

Amor and Lagodinsky described Gergerlioğlu’s case as another crude example of the dire situation of freedom of speech in Turkey, the abuse of anti-terror measures to silence any critical voice and the particular crackdown on opposition, especially the HDP party, in an attempt to limit pluralism and political debate.

“Gergerlioğlu’s expulsion from Parliament and his upcoming jailing, only two weeks after the Turkish President presented a new Human Rights Action Plan that pledged to put human dignity, human rights and rule of law at its centre, is a painful ‘reality check’,” the statement said. “Actions speak louder than words, and in this case, they speak particularly louder than any promise of legal reforms and any speech towards the EU full of good intentions.”

Amor and Lagodinsky called on Turkish authorities to live up to the values they claim to defend in line with the Turkish Constitution, their commitments to European standards and the international conventions that Turkey is party to.

In a tweet, another MEP, former Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament Kati Piri, described the stripping of Gergerlioğlu’s parliamentary immunity “illegal, immoral and cowardly.”

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