Pro-Kurdish HDP’s Gergerlioğlu to be stripped of parliamentary status

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu will be stripped of his status as a member of parliament on Wednesday, Duvar news site reported.

Turkey’s Court of Cassation last month approved a two year, six month prison sentence issued to the human rights activist and medical doctor on charges of terrorist propaganda, a move that effectively paves the way for the deputy to be stripped of his seat in the country's highest lawmaking body.

Gergerlioğlu’s sentence pertains to a news article shared by the HDP lawmaker that included a statement by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish autonomy for almost 40 years.

The Turkish court had ruled that the outspoken advocate of victims of Turkey’s human rights violations had aimed to “increase public sympathy for the organisation and garner up active support for it”.

Gergerlioğlu objected to the Court of Cassation's decision by appealing to the Constitutional Court, but the Court of Cassation sent its decision to the Parliament before waiting for a Constitutional Court decision.

"Even if I am guilty, the decision of the Constitutional Court should have been waited. The Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Enis Berberoğlu has returned to the Parliament. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but he is free now. This means that the Constitutional Court can change the results of judiciary decisions. So why is this decision so quick? Because this is a political decision," said Gergerlioğlu in an interview with Ahval Turkish.

The HDP lawmaker on Tuesday said he planned to be present in Parliament when he is stripped of his status and he would resist what he called a “coup” until the very end.

“Attempting to push out a deputy that received votes from 90,000 people is a coup against parliament,” Gergerlioğlu said on Twitter. “I am going to resist this coup.”

“I will not leave Parliament. Those looking to arrest me will have to do this under the roof of Parliament,” Duvar cited the lawmaker as saying on Monday.

"Because of a retweet I posted, my freedom of expression and my right to engage in politics are being taken away, and my parliamentary immunity is being lifted. This is officially an usurpation of the national will. The will of the nation is being usurped. A coup is being introduced in the Parliament", The HDP lawmaker said.

"My party will be supporting me tomorrow. A protest will be carried out in the parliament. However, opposition parties need to raise their voice, too".

“We did not win this election easily,” he added, referring to the last parliamentary elections in 2018, which saw the HDP surpass the 10 percent election threshold to win 60 seats in parliament.

Ankara accuses the HDP of acting in the interests of and harbouring sympathies for the PKK, a charge the HDP denies. The Turkish government has detained hundreds of party members while ousting mayors from over 50 HDP municipalities since 2019.

Before entering politics, Gergerlioğlu served as the chairman of human rights organisation Mazlum-Der, and worked as a journalist for various publications while maintaining his medical practice.

The lawmaker has spent the last few years advocating for victims of mistreatment and torture in Turkey’s prisons and police stations.

Gergerlioğlu likened the current political climate in Turkey to notorious 1990s when opposition politicians were persecuted by the Turkish governments. 

"In 1994 political immunities of the pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP) MPs Orhan Doğan, Leyla Zana, Selim Sadak and Hatip Dicle were lifted and they were sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 1999 Merve Kavakçı, a female lawmaker from Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi) was precluded from taking her oath in the swear-in ceremony by members of the Democratic Left Party (Demokratik Sol Parti) due to her headscarf. Unfortunately, the government seeks to reintroduce notorious 1990s and to create new victims like Merve Kavakçı with its unlawful and non-democratic conduct. Yet, I will not bow. Turkish rulers will eventually be ashamed in the face of the whole world".

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