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PACE welcomes release of opposition MP Gergerlioğlu

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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden, SOC) and John Howell (United Kingdom, EC/DA), have welcomed the release of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a prominent human rights activist who was stripped of his parliamentary status in March and subsequently jailed, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

“We welcome the decision of the Constitutional Court, which clearly and unanimously stated that Mr Gergerlioğlu’s right to be elected and engage in political activities, and his right to personal security and liberty, had been violated,” they said.

Gergerlioğlu, who had been behind bars since April 2, was released from Ankara’s Sincan Prison following a decision from Turkey’s Constitutional Court last week which ruled that Gergerlioğlu’s right to stand for election and engage in political activities as well as his right to liberty and security were violated through his imprisonment.

“We now expect that Mr Gergerlioğlu – who was finally released five days after the ruling of the Constitutional Court – will be allowed to return to parliament without further delay and exercise his political mandate,” the co-rapporteurs stated.

Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his status in parliament on March 17 after conviction of disseminating “terrorist” propaganda in 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.

A two-and-a-half-year jail sentence handed down to him on Feb. 21, 2018 was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Feb. 19, 2021, and 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 taken into custody at his home on April 2 and sent to prison.

“We once again call on the Turkish authorities to be inspired by the principles and fundamental freedoms which underpin Turkey’s membership of the Council of Europe, and to take the necessary measures to put an end to anti-democratic practices which seriously undermine the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey,” they added.

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