Son of jailed former MP calls on top court to prioritize father’s petition

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The son of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a renowned human rights activist and former member of the Turkish Parliament who was expelled from the legislature in March and subsequently imprisoned on a “terrorism” conviction, has called on the country’s Constitutional Court to prioritize his father’s petition for review due to its urgency.

Gergerlioğlu, a politician from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was stripped of his parliamentary membership on March 17 after a Supreme Court of Appeals decision upheld a prison sentence of two years, six months given to the rights advocate lawmaker on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

In early March Gergerlioğlu petitioned the Constitutional Court, claiming that his right to freedom of expression had been violated.

“As a citizen I request the Constitutional Court to review the individual application of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu due to its importance and urgency based on the 68th article of the Constitutional Court bylaws,” Gergerlioğlu’s son, Salih, tweeted.

Article 68 of the Constitutional Court bylaws states that the court reviews the applications based on their date of filing; however, the court can also prioritize applications based on their urgency or importance.

Salih Gergerlioğlu’s tweet attracted widespread attention among social media users, with opposition politicians, activists and writers urging them to make the same call to the top court from their accounts.

Proceedings were launched against Gergerlioğlu over his social media posts, and the deputy stood trial on terrorism charges for sharing a news report on Twitter in 2016. He 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.

In his petition to the top court, Gergerlioğlu said the tweet in question was about a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem and was the exercise of freedom of expression on a political issue. The petition also made reference to the European Convention on Human Rights and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights concerning freedom of expression.

Recalling the case of Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Enis Berberoğlu, who was tried on espionage charges, jailed and subsequently stripped of his parliamentary membership after his conviction but recently returned to parliament based on a Constitutional Court ruling, Gergerlioğlu said: “Enis Berberoğlu returned to the parliament as a lawmaker. I will also return to parliament. They have stripped me of my membership despite knowing all this.”

Gergerlioğlu was attacked by Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in December after he brought widespread claims of strip-searches and harassment in prisons and detention centers to the floor of parliament.

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