HDP deputy Gergerlioğlu continues resistance against expulsion from parliament

Pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on March 19 started his third day of resistance to protest his expulsion from the parliament over a social media post. Meanwhile, veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk and İHD executive Kerem Altıparmak visited the deputy in parliament to show solidarity.

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Pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has spent his second night in the parliament building in protest of the stripping of his parliamentary status on March 17 over a social media post. 

In 2018, the HDP MP was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on charges of “terrorism propaganda” over a tweet. The case was later taken to the Court of Cassation which upheld the verdict. 

After the court’s decision was read at the parliament on March 17, Gergerlioğlu's status as an MP was stripped. Gergerlioğlu said on the same day that he was not going to leave the parliament building until the Constitutional Court ruled on his appeal. 

"We are on the third day of our resistance. We are well, just resisting :)" tweeted Gergerlioğlu on March 19. "We want everyone to support our resistance. You are welcome, I'm at parliament, we have tea and coffee :)"

In a video accompanying his tweet, he said that he was on resistance of "democracy, law and justice," adding that he would stay in parliament for 24 hours with the help of his fellow party members. 

"Our friends take turns supporting me. We feel good. We are receiving a lot of visitors too, many politicians, non-governmental organizations have visited," Gergerlioğlu said. 

Three deputies from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) visited him on March 18, Gergerlioğlu said, adding that representatives of the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK) also paid a visit to him on March 19. 

Veteran Kurdish politician Türk visits Gergerlioğlu at parliament 

On March 19, also veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk and prominent human rights lawyer Kerem Altıparmak from the Human Rights Association (İHD) visited Gergerlioğlu in parliament during his "Justice Vigil." They later held a press meeting.

"There is a saying that goes, 'There is nothing that has changed in the western front.' We are continuing through the same things that we have been experiencing for the last 30 years," Türk said during the press meeting. 

Gergerlioğlu said that he does not recognize the decision to strip him of his parliamentary status. "My parliamentary status has been stripped as a procedure, but this has been done by running over the Constitution," Gergerlioğlu said during the press conference. 

Ahmet Türk (C), Kerem Altıparmak (R) visited Gergerlioğlu.
Veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk (C) and İHD executive Kerem Altıparmak (R) visited Gergerlioğlu on March 19.

"We are here for the last three days, all of our friends are here. We are undertaking a resistance that is unprecedented in the world. Let all the world see this," the deputy said. 

Altıparmak drew parallelism between the move against Gergerlioğlu and Ankara's stance towards human rights defenders. He said that İHD co-chair Öztürk Türkdoğan had been detained earlier in the morning after being targeted by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. 

"We believe that there is important parallelism between Türkdoğan's detention and attitude towards human rights defenders. Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was unseated because he has been defending human rights, and Türkdoğan was detained today for similarly defending human rights," Altıparmak said during the press conference. 

İHD co-chair Türkdoğan was detained early on Mach 19 by police at his home, prompting human rights groups to call for his release. There was no official statement why he was held.