Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a former MP from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who was stripped of his parliamentary status on Wednesday and has refused to leave the parliament building in protest ever since, told the Artı Gerçek news website on Friday that he would continue to resist until justice was restored.
Gergerlioğlu, a medical doctor by profession and member of the parliament’s human rights commission, on Wednesday refused to leave the chamber after hearing the decision against him and spent the night on a sofa in the HDP’s parliament meeting room, declaring that he will have to be forcibly removed.
A rare and prolific critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government who has filed thousands of petitions calling on government ministries to investigate widespread human rights violations in Turkey, the 55-year-old stated that he would remain in the building until the Constitutional Court ruled on his appeal against his conviction on terrorism offenses.
Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his parliamentary membership after a Supreme Court of Appeals decision upholding a prison sentence of two years, six months given to him for sharing a news report on Twitter and on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda was read out in the General Assembly.
“I’ve been here for three days so that the Constitutional Court can give the right decision and the people’s will can be manifested,” Gergerlioğlu said, adding that several other HDP lawmakers were taking turns staying with him every night.
Referring to the “justice watch,” which he previously said was “ever-growing with the support of the public,” he added: “This is resistance for democracy, justice and the rule of law. I’ll continue to resist despite the unfavorable conditions. It’s not easy being away from my family. But I’m a fighter; I have struggled all my life. The people made me a lawmaker, and I will never stop fighting for that.”
“Although the mainstream media choose to turn a blind eye to this, what’s happening here is crucial,” he argued, indicating that he was doing everything he could to announce his watch to the world through social media, motivated by the public support he received.
A video shared on Twitter on Thursday night also showed Gergerlioğlu in the HDP’s meeting room in his pajamas. He was telling and showing the audience that he now had a mattress on the floor to sleep on and that he wouldn’t be sleeping on a sofa as he did before.
Standing trial on terrorism charges for sharing a news report on Twitter, Gergerlioğlu was given the jail sentence at the end of his trial on Feb. 21, 2018 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda, and the conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Feb. 19.
The revocation of his status reduced the HDP’s seats in the 600-member assembly to 55. The parliamentary status of two other HDP lawmakers was removed last year due to convictions against them.
On the same day of his expulsion, a top Turkish prosecutor asked the Constitutional Court to shut down the HDP, which is accused by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The party denies links to the militants and says it is coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule.
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges.