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Human rights defender suspended for social media message

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Dr. Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, spokesperson for the Kocaeli Peace Platform and former head of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (Mazlumder), has been suspended for “disseminating terrorist propaganda” in a message on social media about ongoing clashes between the Turkish military and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Turkey’s Southeast, the Diken news website reported on Friday.

Dr. Gergerlioğlu, a columnist for the t24 news website, has been working as specialist in lung disease at İzmit Seka State Hospital since 2000.

Gergerlioğlu posted a picture on Facebook in which mothers are sitting next to two coffins, one of which is covered with a PKK symbol and the other by a Turkish flag, with the message: ” We are no different when we die. Instead of the coffins of our children, let them stand alive next to each other.”

The Kocaeli Governor’s Office announced that an investigation had been launched into Gergerlioğlu.

In response to the decision, Gergerlioğlu said he was suspended by the governor without an opportunity to even present a defense.

“How do you find it a crime to say children should not die, mothers should not cry? Is this the result of all the recent democracy vigils? Power is not law. Any one who thinks I will obey after this decision is sadly mistaken.”

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