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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Turkey arrests prominent pro-Kurdish MP who was expelled from parliament

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu 'was brought out by force while he was in pyjamas and slippers' by 'nearly 100 police officers', the leftist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement

AFP , Sunday 21 Mar 2021
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawmaker from the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, center, reacts after the parliament stripped his parliamentary seat, in Ankara, March 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
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Turkish authorities on Sunday arrested a pro-Kurdish opposition MP who had refused to leave parliament for several days after his seat was revoked, his party said.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu "was brought out by force while he was in pyjamas and slippers" by "nearly 100 police officers", the leftist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement.

The parliament had on Wednesday revoked the seat of Gergerlioglu, an outspoken rights defender, and his accompanying immunity from prosecution after a court upheld a controversial conviction over a social media post.

Gergerlioglu was handed a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for spreading "terrorist propaganda" online.

Gergerlioglu has rejected the accusations, and his expulsion from parliament was criticised by numerous campaign groups and Western governments.

He had remained holed up in a room in the parliament since Wednesday.

The HDP tweeted a photo of him being escorted out of the room, wearing a black T-shirt.

"You used to be able to see this kind of scene in the 1990s. Unfortunately nothing has changed," Gergerlioglu said during his arrest, according to comments reported by his party.

His remark referred to a decade marked by a flaring of the Kurdish conflict in southeastern Turkey, when several pro-Kurdish MPs were arrested.

The HDP, the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, has been under a constant crackdown since 2016 with the arrest of several of its lawmakers and leaders, including its charismatic co-chair Selahattin Demirtas.

Demirtas -- a two-time rival to incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan in presidential elections -- has been kept in detention since 2016 despite calls from European Court of Human Rights demanding his release.

The top public prosecutor in Ankara had on Wednesday demanded that the HDP be dissolved over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK has been waging an insurgency since 1984 that has killed tens of thousands and is listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.

The HDP has seen dozens of its mayors dismissed over alleged terror links.

Western powers have universally condemned the bid to shut down the HDP. The country's highest court is due to rule on the case in the coming weeks.

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