Top court to review rights defender, former MP Gergerlioğlu’s application on July 1

Turkey’s Constitutional Court will review an application submitted by rights defender and former MP from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who has been behind bars in prison for 85 days, during its session on July 1.

Gergerlioğlu demanded the annulment of a lower court decision stripping him of the parliamentary status.

Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his status in parliament on March 17 after conviction of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in a 2016 social media post, where he commented on a story that reported on outlawed Kurdish militants calling on the Turkish state to take a step towards peace.

A two-and-a-half-year jail sentence handed down to him on Feb. 21, 2018 was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Feb. 19, 2021, and the 55-year-old politician, who has shone a light on controversial topics including torture and prison strip-searches in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers, was taken into custody at his home on April 2 and sent to prison.

In his application, Gergerlioğlu referred to the top court’s recent ruling on the case of Enis Berberoğlu, an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). The court decided unanimously in January that Berberoğlu’s right to stand for elections and engage in political activities had been violated by the lower courts.

Berberoğlu was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2017 on espionage charges for providing the Cumhuriyet newspaper with a video purporting to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucking weapons into Syria.

Speaking to the Ahval news website in May, Gergerlioğlu said he was arrested in an inhumane and humiliating manner, adding, “These things happened because I am so outspoken about human rights violations.”

“My imprisonment is the result of authorities taking revenge for my standing up against human rights violations in Turkey,” said Gergerlioğlu.

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a global organization of national parliaments, has said in a recent decision that Gergerlioğlu’s continued detention was arbitrary and should be immediately ended.

The IPU argued that the former MP was “serving a harsh prison term as a result of the legitimate use of his right to freedom of expression,” noting that he simply sent a tweet in which he forwarded an existing news report and included an implicit call for peace negotiations to take place.

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