Turkish police detain expelled rights advocate MP Gergerlioğlu

Turkish member of Parliament for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu (C) reacts as he is surrounded by MPs applauding and brandishing placards after he was expelled following a vote at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, on March 17, 2021. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

Turkish police on Friday detained a politician from a pro-Kurdish party two weeks after his expulsion from parliament over terror charges linked to a 2016 social media post, Agence France-Presse reported, citing his son.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, 55, is a leading human rights advocate who has shone a light on controversial topics including torture and prison strip-searches.

He was an MP for the pro-Kurdish, leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s second-largest opposition group, until his parliamentary status was revoked on March 17.

Gergerlioğlu’s son, Salih, tweeted: “They have come to arrest my father” at his home in Ankara.

“They did not let him put his shoes on before they forced him out,” Salih added in another tweet

The police issued no immediate comment.

The top appeals court in February upheld Gergerlioğlu’s 2018 conviction for “spreading terrorist propaganda” over a post he shared in 2016 before he was elected an MP in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.

He was sentenced to two years, six months in prison.

Gergerlioğlu was convicted after he shared and commented on a story that reported on outlawed Kurdish militants calling on the Turkish state to take a step towards peace.

The parliament then stripped him of his immunity and his status in a move condemned by rights groups.

He applied to the Constitutional Court to cancel the decision, but the court rejected the application this week, claiming a lack of jurisdiction on the issue.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday delayed starting closure proceedings against the HDP over alleged links to Kurdish militants.

It said the case put before the court by the top public prosecutor seeking to dissolve the party had “procedural shortcomings” and sent the file back for revision.

The HDP has faced multiple crackdowns since 2016 with thousands of its members detained and provincial and city mayors replaced by government-appointed trustees.


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