HDP MP Gergerlioğlu stripped of parliamentary status

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament since 2018 for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) representing Kocaeli province, was found guilty in February 2018 of “spreading terrorism propaganda” on the basis of a 2016 social media post that did not advocate violence.

Turkey’s top appeals court upheld the conviction and sentence of two years and six months in prison on February 19, 2021. On March 15, the Speaker of Turkey’s parliament indicated that steps to strip Gergerlioğlu of his seat may be imminent, though Gergerlioğlu has filed a Constitutional Court challenge to the prosecution against him.

Gergerlioğlu has been stripped of his MP status after the court verdict was read out at the General Assembly of the Parliament today, March 17.

While the HDP deputies protested the action with applause, the parliamentary session has been recessed.

Background

On August 20, 2016, almost two years before he became member of parliament, Gergerlioğlu tweeted and commented on a news story briefly reporting that the leadership of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq had called on the Turkish state to take a step towards peace. The news story also carried a lengthy response to the PKK call by Bülent Arinç, then the speaker of the parliament and former deputy prime minister.

Gergerlioğlu said that, “This [the PKK’s] call should be properly considered, there’s no end to the issue…!” (Bu çağrı hakkıyla değerlendirilmeli, bu işin sonu yok…!), making the argument that there should be a renewed peace process to end the decades-long conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK. Gergerlioglu was convicted for this tweet sharing the news article and its accompanying photograph of PKK fighters.