Turkey's top appeals court upholds prison sentence for leading human rights defender and HDP MP Gergerlioğlu

Turkey's Court of Cassation on Feb. 19 upheld the two-and-a-half-year sentence given to prominent human rights defender Ömer Gergerlioğlu, who is also a lawmaker from the HDP. Gergerlioğlu was in 2018 convicted on charges of “making terror propaganda” for sharing a social media post about the Kurdish issue and the breakdown of the peace process in 2015.

Gergerlioğlu is seen holding a press conference in parliament in this file photo.

Duvar English

Turkey's Court of Cassation on Feb. 19 ruled that the conviction of leading human rights defenders Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who is also a lawmaker from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), shall be upheld.

The conviction concerns one of Gergerlioğlu's social media posts in which he talked about the Kurdish issue and the breakdown of the peace process between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Turkish state.

In 2018, Gergerlioğlu was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on charges of “making terror propaganda” for this social media post. The case was later taken to the Court of Cassation, which is the highest appeals court for civil and criminal cases.

Gergerlioğlu, who was dismissed from the medical profession by a decree (KHK) issued under the state of emergency on Jan. 7, 2017, is constantly targeted by parliament members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for bringing up human rights violations going on in Turkey.

In December, he brought reports of strip searches of female detainees across, increasing awareness about rights violations in Turkish jails. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu at the time accused Gergerlioğlu of being a “terrorist,” an allegation widely used by the Turkish authorities to criminalize democratic opposition and government critics.

Gergerlioğlu has been also defending the rights of people who have been dismissed from their jobs by government decrees in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt, which makes him the target of the AKP with accusations of “being a Gülenist.”

Gergerlioğlu reminds the government that he is a member of parliament's Human Rights Commission and that it is his job to monitor human rights violations.

He lastly raised the issue of rights violations at a prison in the Central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale during a meeting of the parliament's Human Rights Commission, and again faced accusations of being a "Gülenist." 

“It is mostly FETÖ convicts who have been incarcerated in this prison. Is your sensitivity stemming from this?” an AKP lawmaker asked during the meeting, using the government's acronym for the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.