Turkish police detain HDP lawmaker who lost his seat

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Omer Gergerlioglu and the other lawmakers from his party hold a protest after the Turkish Parliament stripped him of his MP status during a session at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey March 17, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Turkish police on Friday detained a former lawmaker from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the party said, after his parliamentary status was revoked last month due to a finalized sentence against him on terrorism charges.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a human rights activist, was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in prison for terrorism propaganda, in a ruling later upheld by the top appeals court.

The charges were related to a link he shared on Twitter to a news story that included comments by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Gergerlioglu denies any wrongdoing.

“This is a shame for Turkey. This is a shame for the ruling party. I am being punished for opposing injustice,” Gergerlioglu told broadcaster Arti TV, adding that police were waiting outside his door to take him away.

The HDP said it expected Gergerlioglu to be sent to jail.

Thousands of members of the HDP, Turkey’s third-largest party, have been tried as part of a years-long crackdown on the party over alleged links to the PKK.

Many prominent members of the party have been jailed, including its former co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, one of Turkey’s most well-known politicians.

Last month, a top prosecutor moved to shut down the party, after months of calls from President Tayyip Erdogan’s nationalist MHP allies.

Critics say Turkish courts are influenced by politics, while Erdogan and his AK Party say they are independent.

Turkey’s top court sent the indictment calling for the HDP to be closed back to the prosecutor on procedural grounds this week. But it can be re-submitted after the necessary changes.

The HDP denies links to terrorism and has described the move to ban it as a “political coup”.

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. It has fought an insurgency against the state in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

(Esta Media Network/Reuters)

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