The Ankara Governor’s Office has denied the use of force against Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a former lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a prominent human rights activist, during his arrest at his house in Ankara last week despite video footage showing the apparent use of strong-arm tactics by police officers against the former deputy.
Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his status in parliament on March 17 based on a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence handed down to him on terrorism charges. Describing the jail sentence as unlawful, Gergerlioğlu refused to turn himself in to the authorities and waited for the police to come and arrest him. Police officers went to Gergerlioğlu’s house to arrest him on Friday evening.
"Bu zulüm devam etmez!" pic.twitter.com/KaDUB2RqdC
— Salih Gergerlioğlu (@salihro) April 2, 2021
The moments of his detention were recorded by his son and an HDP lawmaker. When Gergerlioğlu wanted to make a final statement before his arrest, the police officers intervened, hit him and dragged him out of his house even before allowing him to put on some shoes. His son, Salih, said he had to take his father’s shoes downstairs so that he could put them on before getting into the police car.
The governor’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that Gergerlioğlu was not subjected to any acts of maltreatment during his detention and that claims suggesting the opposite were aimed at slandering the police.
After his detention on Friday evening, Gergerlioğlu had to be hospitalized and underwent an angiogram in the early hours of Saturday, after which was put in intensive care due to high blood pressure.
Salih Gergerlioğlu tweeted later on Saturday that his father was secretly taken to prison from the back door of the hospital while he was in intensive care.
Abdülkadir Yılmaztürk, one of the police officers who was seen in the video of Gergerlioğlu’s detention attacking and hitting the former deputy, turned out to be the police officer whose acts of torture and maltreatment Gergerlioğlu brought to public attention in a speech he made in parliament in 2019.
The 55-year-old politician, who has shone a light on controversial topics including torture and prison strip-searches in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers, was expelled from parliament over terror charges linked to a 2016 social media post where he commented on a story that reported on outlawed Kurdish militants calling on the Turkish state to take a step towards peace.
Gergerlioğlu was given the jail sentence at the end of his trial on Feb. 21, 2018, and the conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Feb. 19.
In the meantime, Salih Gergerlioğlu shared notes sent by his father from prison on his Twitter account. In his first messages from prison, Gergerlioğlu said he would not remain silent and would not give up his fight for human rights even if he is in prison.
“No need to be discouraged. We have a lot of work to do,” said Gergerlioğlu.