European Parliament Standing Rapporteur for Turkey Nacho Sánchez Amor and the Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee Sergey Lagodinsky have released a statement denouncing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu’s expulsion from the parliament.
“We firmly condemn the decision to strip human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu of his parliamentary seat and parliamentary immunity on 17 March 2021, and his upcoming subsequent jailing,” says the statement.
Gergerlioğlu was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison on the charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” on February 21, 2018, because of a social media post from 2016.
He has been expelled from the parliament after the Court of Cassation upheld his conviction. The politician has taken the case to the Constitutional Court.
“His conviction, expulsion and expected incarceration because of a social media post constitute a severe violation of his human rights and another serious step that further undermines the trust in Turkey’s parliamentary democracy,” the MEPs stated.
“His case is another crude example of the dire situation of freedom of speech in the country, the abuse of anti-terror measures to silence any critical voice and the particular crackdown on opposition, especially the HDP party, in an attempt to limit pluralism and political debate.”
“A reality check to the human rights action plan”
“Gergerlioğlu’s expulsion from Parliament and his upcoming jailing, only two weeks after the Turkish President presented a new Human Rights Action Plan that pledged to put human dignity, human rights and rule of law at its center, is a painful ‘reality check.’ Actions speak louder than words, and in this case, they speak particularly louder than any promise of legal reforms and any speech towards the EU full of good intentions.
We call upon Turkish authorities to live up to the values they claim to defend in line with the Turkish Constitution, their commitments to European standards and the international conventions that Turkey is party to.”
“It is not by chance that Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu,a fierce advocate of human rights speaking up for the numerous people who have been arbitrarily convicted and jailed before him, has been targeted and prosecuted on unfounded grounds. We express our full solidarity with him and his family and continue to support civil democratic aspirations of civil society and all citizens in Turkey.”
Kati Piri, the former Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament, also denounced Gergerlioğlu’s expulsion, which she called “an immoral and a cowardly act” in a Twitter post.