Pro-Kurdish MP stripped of status refuses to leave parliament

A member of parliament for Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) stripped of his parliamentary status on Wednesday has refused to leave the Grand National Assembly in protest.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said he would remain in the building until the Constitutional Court ruled on his appeal against a recent conviction on terrorism offences, news site Bianet reported on Thursday.

Turkey’s Court of Cassation last month approved a two and a half year prison sentence against Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on charges of making terrorist propaganda over a news article he shared on social media that included a statement by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The outlawed PKK has been involved in an internal conflict with the Turkish state for almost 40 years.

A summary of proceedings against Gergerlioğlu read in parliament on Wednesday marked the removal of his parliamentary status over the conviction.  

Hours after Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his parliamentary status, the Court of Cassation’s Chief Public Prosecutor filed a lawsuit to the Constitutional Court seeking the closure of the HDP, the third largest group in the country’s parliament.

The indictment includes a call for a ban on political activity for over 600 HDP members, including jailed former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.

"The coup operation continues by deepening. Two moves on the same day... All these have one meaning: Completely crushing democracy in Turkey and destroying hopes for the future," Bianet cited HDP Co-Chair Mithat Sancar as saying.

The opposition has a “historic responsibility” to fight in solidarity with the HDP against fascism, he added.

Meanwhile, social media users, including journalists, lawyers, academics, human rights organisations  and activists have criticised the crackdown on the HDP.

“Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu fearlessly stood by the victims of human rights violations from all walks of life in Turkey,” tweeted Stockholm Center for Freedom.

“You have the power, you can kill us all too. This is the reality. But no matter what you do, you cannot be Gergerlioğlu's nail. This is also the truth,” author, filmmaker Ümit Kıvanç said.

“We cannot talk about democracy when so many elected politicians are behind bars, but the next elections might be most anti-democratic of all," journalist Banu Güven said.

“Shut down the HDP, put a political ban on 600 people. The result does not change. You cannot destroy the sense of justice in people. This time, millions come together to form a party,” former politician, economist Nesrin Nas said.

“The essence of the matter is; no success goes unpunished in Turkey,” academic Eser Karakaş said.

“It’s like a déjà vu. We went back to the 1990s as of saying a human rights action plan,” academic Serap Yazıcı said.

“Whenever something that looks good like the ‘Human Rights Action Plan’ appears in the country, something terrible happens,” academic Yaman Akdeniz said.

“A total eclipse of mind,” journalist Cünety Özdemir said.