Dozens of Turkish police arrest pro-Kurdish HDP lawmaker in parliament on Newroz
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Turkish police on Sunday morning arrested Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, less than one week after he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity.
The prominent politician’s detention comes at the onset of the Kurdish New Year, known as Newroz, were being celebrated in parts of Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey. Newroz is an occasion strongly symbolic of Kurdish rights and independence, often banned in Turkey.
"Our Kocaeli MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who continued his Justice Watch in Parliament in Ankara, was detained this morning at 6:30 a.m," the HDP said in a press statement.
On August 20, 2016, two years before he was elected, Gergerlioglu tweeted and commented on a news story in which the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) called on the Turkish government to "take a step" toward peace.
The PKK has fought a decades-long insurgency with Ankara over Kurdish rights and self-rule in which tens of thousands have perished on both sides.
Last month, Turkey’s top appeals court upheld Gergerlioglu’s subsequent conviction and sentence of two years and six months in prison for his tweet sharing the news article and its accompanying photograph of PKK fighters.
On Wednesday, the Turkish parliament used this conviction for a social media post as its public justification to take action against him.
"As he went to the bathroom to prepare for his morning prayers, around 100 police officers entered the HDP's hall in the parliament building, where Gergerlioğlu has carried out his protest watch for the last 5 days," the statement added.
HDP MP Gergerlioglu was detained in the #Turkish Parliament this morning. #RuleOfLaw #Democracy@NachoSAmor @SLagodinsky @MaryLawlorHRDS @mbachelet @CoE_CPT @CoESpokesperson @Dunja_Mijatovic @AgnesCallamard @insanhaklari @ihd_genelmerkez @amnesty @aforgutu @hrw @esinclairwebb pic.twitter.com/ElousP24Ym— Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu (Eng) (@gergerlioglueng) March 21, 2021
According to the HDP, Gergerlioğlu said to the police, "Let me first perform my prayers and change my clothes, then we shall go."
However, the statement continued, "police insisted on detaining him, and took him away in his pajamas and slippers, despite the objection of our MPs Filiz Kerestecioğlu and Hüseyin Kaçmaz."
Moreover, Turkey's top prosecutor filed an indictment on the same day against the HDP, seeking the closure of the party and a political ban for 687 HDP officials, including its current co-chairs, Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar, and the imprisoned former co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
EU parliament members responsible for monitoring Turkey quickly denounced the parliament for its decision on Wednesday to revoke Gergerlioğlu’s immunity that all lawmakers enjoy..
Since the collapse of the peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK in 2015, some 16,300 HDP members have been detained, with 3,500 of them receiving prison sentences, party officials told the Mezopotamya news agency in November 2019.
Another 35 people were detained last Friday, including multiple HDP members.
Editing by John J. Catherine