According to Turkey’s state-run news agency, Turkish police detained the prominent pro-Kurdish party HDP politician Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, weeks after he has stripped off his Parliament his conviction for social media posts which the courts considered “terrorist propaganda.”
For re-tweeting a 2016 article about a call for peace by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, Gergerlioglu was sentenced to two and a half years in jail after the court deemed the social media post as “spreading terrorist propaganda.” The appeals court upheld the sentence, which led him to lose his parliamentary seat, although his appeal to the Constitutional Court is pending.
The final judicial decision against Gergerlioglu was read in the Turkish Parliament on March 17. With the reading of the decision, Gergerlioglu was stripped of his membership in Parliament. Gergerlioglu then started the “justice watch,” where he stayed in the Turkish Parliament and refused to leave. During his fifth day in the Parliament, around 100 police officers entered the HDP’s hall in the parliament building, where Gergerlioglu stayed. They forcefully took him away in his pajamas and slippers without even sparing him a moment to change his clothes and wear his shoes.
On the evening of April 2, 2021, police raided Gergerlioglu’s home and arrested him forcibly after he failed to report to police within the 10-day legal notice. One of the police officers who arrived to arrest him was the same officer Gergerlioglu exposed as a torturer in a speech to the Parliament in 2019. This police officer and others aggressively pushed and kicked Gergerlioglu out of his house, once again dragging him barefoot, similar to the case in the Parliament raid. A police officer insulted him and threatened to punch him during his transfer. Gergerlioglu was sent to prison despite his chest pains and a physician’s health report. He was eventually taken to hospital from jail on April 3, hours after his arrest, where he underwent angiography for elevated blood pressure and was placed in intensive care. He then was transferred back to Sincan High-Security Prison to serve his sentence.
Gergerlioglu became a target for the Turkish government after repeatedly speaking out against human rights violations and torture claims in the country and strip searches of female inmates in prisons.
Gergerlioglu’s arrest over a social media post is yet another blow for Turkey’s democracy and an epitome of police brutality and the decline of the rule of law in Turkey.