HDP: Gergerlioğlu is not alone!

The HDP considers the verdict against its deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu to be politically motivated.

The Turkish Court of Cassation on Friday upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu for terror propaganda. If the sentence is read out in parliament, the politician will lose his mandate. In a statement on the verdict, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said that it is not legally comprehensible in any way and that it was only reached by the government.

HDP pointed out that the court proceedings should have been stopped after Gergerlioğlu gained immunity with his election as a deputy. "Instead, the proceedings have continued, and the verdict has been confirmed, violating the constitution and legislation, as well as international conventions. The Court of Cassation also contradicted its own jurisprudence with the ruling. The reason for this is political motives and pressure from the government."

The basis of the charges against Gergerlioğlu was a peace message. The politician, who is actually a doctor by profession and a specialist in lung diseases, became involved with the peace platform in Kocaeli after the peace negotiations with the Kurdish movement were unilaterally ended by the Turkish government in 2015. On the initiative's social media accounts, Gergerlioğlu posted peace messages almost daily, including on Oct. 9, 2016, when he posted a photo showing a posed scene during a 2015 World Day of Peace event: several women can be seen, with two coffins in the foreground. In one, a Turkish soldier, in the other a PKK fighter, who can be identified by corresponding flags on the coffins. Under the picture, Gergerlioğlu wrote: "This war exhausts society. One child joins the army, another joins the PKK, both die. Wouldn't it be better if the two didn't lie next to each other as corpses, but lived as equals, shoulder to shoulder?"

As a result, Gergerlioğlu fell on the radar of right-wing journalists and politicians, who instigated a smear campaign against him. In the same week, an investigation was opened against the doctor, followed by the suspension of his civil servant status, which resulted in his dismissal by emergency decree. In the course of the investigative proceedings initiated in 2017, further "evidence" against the 55-year-old politician eventually emerged: The public prosecutor's office retroactively reviewed Gergerlioğlus's articles for half a year, which he had written for the online newspaper T24 at the time, and included, among other things, a quote ("If the state took one step toward us, peace would come in as little as a month") from a PKK statement in the indictment. Although it was demonstrably not a statement by the politician, it was nevertheless deemed terrorist propaganda. So was a column titled "Peace for Colombia - Why can't it be done in Turkey?". In January 2019, the politician was convicted.

According to the HDP, the fact that Gergerlioğlu was convicted of propaganda for a terrorist organization for sharing a news item that had already been published contradicts the case law in Turkey and the European Court of Human Rights: "Gergerlioğlu has been sentenced to imprisonment for sharing a link. The AKP/MHP government wants to use this to punish our MP, who defends the human rights of all groups without distinction, as well as the people in his constituency of Kocaeli. It wants to prevent its human rights violations from being made public."

For the HDP, it is clear that Gergerlioğlu is wanted silenced because he consistently addresses human rights violations in Turkey. "We declare once again that we will not give up our struggle for peace and justice despite the anti-human rights and anti-democracy government. Gergerlioğlu is not alone!" the HPD statement underlined.

If Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu is stripped of his mandate in parliament, he has seven days to appeal to the Constitutional Court. The court must then make a decision within two weeks. Just last weekend, another investigation was initiated against the politician in a rush, this time for violating the so-called Turkishness paragraph. The background to this is criticism of the bombing of a camp in the guerrilla region of Gare in Southern Kurdistan by the Turkish army, which left thirteen Turkish prisoners of war dead.