My imprisonment is an act of political vengeance: Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

 “My imprisonment is the result of authorities taking revenge for my standing up against human rights violations in Turkey,” said Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights advocate and former deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

According to a report by Maaz İbrahimoğlu of the Ahval news website, Gergerlioğlu said he was arrested in an inhumane and humiliating manner, adding, “These things happened because I am so outspoken about human rights violations.”

“Among the police who came to arrest me was officer Abdülkadir Yılmaztürk, whose maltreatment and torture of detainees I had exposed,” said Gergerlioğlu. “I had named him in parliament, and it was significant that the authorities sent him to pick me up from my house.”

Yılmaztürk is seen in a video of Gergerlioğlu’s detention attacking and hitting the former deputy when he wanted to make a statement before his arrest.

Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his parliamentary status on March 17, based on a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence handed down to him on terrorism charges. Describing the jail sentence as unlawful, Gergerlioğlu refused to turn himself in to the authorities and waited for the police to come and arrest him. Police officers went to Gergerlioğlu’s house to take him into custody on April 2.

The 55-year-old politician, who has shone a light on controversial topics including torture and strip-searches in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers, was expelled from parliament over terror charges linked to a 2016 social media post in which he commented on a story that reported on outlawed Kurdish militants calling on the Turkish state to take a step towards peace.

Gergerlioğlu said he was mistreated when he was taken into custody. He said the police did not even allow him to put on his shoes and rushed him out the house. “I was in the bathroom, and by the time I came out the police had barged into my home,” he said. “The police dragged me into the elevator and kept insulting and cursing me the entire time.”

Gergerlioğlu said he was called a terrorist and pushed into a police car. He added that by the time he was taken to the hospital for a routine health check, he had chest pains and difficulty breathing.

The doctors said his blood pressure and pulse were too high, and Gergerlioğlu was given medication. However, he was taken to court before the doctors were able to get his test results and properly diagnose him.

Gergerlioğlu said after the court proceeding he was taken directly to Sincan Prison, but after his condition deteriorated that evening he was taken back to the hospital in an ambulance.

Referring to the dismal conditions of the prison, Gergerlioğlu said the quarantine cell was filthy, damp and very small. Quarantine cells in Turkish prisons are notorious for their poor conditions and overcrowding.

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