HDP’s Gergerlioğlu sent to prison following angiography at hospital

(This article has been updated from paragraph 1 and 9.)

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, former deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who was taken into custody from his home on Friday evening, has been sent to prison on Saturday, after having an angiography in Ankara City Hospital, Artı Gerçek reported.

The politician’s son, Salih Gergerlioğlu said his dad had been taken from the hospital following a mise-en-scène, via social media.

In an earlier Tweet, he said Gergerlioğlu would stay in intensive care through the day.

Turkish police took Gergerlioğlu into custody from his home in the Turkish capital on Friday evening.

“They took him away, without even letting him put his shoes on,” the politician’s son Salih Gergerlioğlu said.

Officers were seen pushing and shoving Gergerlioğlu, whose status as a member of parliament was revoked on March 18. As seen in another video shared by the HDP, the police didn’t let Gergerlioğlu to make a statement to the camera after he performed his prayers.

“This is the second act of the disgrace at parliament,” Gergerlioğlu told the officers as he was pushed and shoved out of his apartment.

After he was taken to the Ankara courthouse, Gergerlioğlu experienced chest pains and was hospitalised. His family and lawyers weren’t informed on which hospital he was taken to.

Gergerlioğlu's lawyer, Bişar Abdi Alıak, later said that Gergerlioğlu was taken to Ankara City Hospital, via his social media post.

Alıak also shared Gergerlioğlu’s assault report.

In the report, doctor’s observations took place as, “There is a scratch on the outer surface of his left hand’s thumb joint, a rash on the inside of the elbow and behind the neck. He stated that he is suffering from a shortness of breath. Nasal oxygen was given. Cardiology opinion is appropriate… ”

Friday marked the tenth business day after Gergerlioğlu was subpoenaed to turn himself in to be placed in prison. On the day before he received the subpoena, Gergerlioğlu was briefly detained on parliament grounds where he continued what he called a vigil for justice protesting the revocation of his status.

The former deputy is facing a two year and six month prison sentence on terrorist propaganda charges, over a retweet about the Kurdish conflict and the collapse of a peace process between the state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for some 40 years.

Turkey accuses the HDP of having links with the PKK, a claim that the party denies. Earlier in the week, the Constitutional Court rejected an indictment prepared by the Court of Cassation’s top public prosecutor for the HDP’s closure on the grounds of similar terrorism charges, citing procedural errors and weak links between alleged crimes and HDP members.

Before Gergerlioğlu’s hospitalisation, his son had said the family and their lawyers didn’t know where the former deputy was. Some officials told the family that Gergerlioğlu was at the anti-terror unit at the police headquarters, and others said he had already been brought to the courthouse.

The pressure HDP has faced has peaked with the recent indictment and the stripping of Gergerlioğlu’s status, but the party has been under scrutiny for a long time.

Since March 2019, when the party won 65 municipalities in local elections, at least 51 mayors were removed from their posts and replaced with government appointed proxies. Most of them have faced terrorism charges, and many have been arrested.

With the removal of HDP’s mayors, the proxies appointed to replace them have targeted Kurdish-language services in their constituencies, including services for women and children and multilingual signage for public institutions and streets. Kurdish courses for adults were also shut down, as were daycare centres.

The party’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been in prison since Nov. 2016, arrested alongside several HDP deputies and former deputies at the time, shortly after the resurgence of conflict that Gergerlioğlu spoke against.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) maintains Demirtaş’s arrest is “politically motivated”, and has ruled for the popular former co-chair’s immediate release. Turkish courts have refused to comply with the ruling.