ANKARA: Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday revoked the seat of an opposition party MP and outspoken rights defender after his controversial conviction over a social media post.
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu has been a thorn in the side of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, shining a light on a variety of human rights violations that often go ignored by the mainstream Turkish media.
The 55-year-old represents the pro-Kurdish leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s second-largest opposition group.
Turkey’s top appeals court last month upheld his 2018 conviction for “spreading terrorism propaganda” over a post he shared in 2016 before he was elected an MP in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.
He had shared and commented on a story which reported on an outlawed Kurdish militant group calling on the Turkish state to take a step towards peace. Kurdish militias have been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Gergerlioglu, who will now see his immunity from prosecution lifted, defiantly declared in parliament that he will have to be forcibly removed from the chamber.
“I came here to parliament representing the people’s will,” said Gergerlioglu, who is also a physician, accusing the parliament of committing a “crime” against him.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he shouted, calling the decision “unconstitutional”.
Gergerlioglu was supported by fellow HDP MPs, some of whom applauded Gergerlioglu and banged on tables in the general assembly while chanting “rights, law, justice”.