ANKARA: The Erdogan regime faced widespread condemnation on Saturday after an activist member of parliament who exposed human rights abuses was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Turkey’s Court of Appeal upheld the sentence on Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a member of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which the government accuses of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Gergerlioglu was convicted on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” for retweeting a news story about the Kurdish conflict and the collapse of the peace process. His conviction over a social media post had the “hallmark of an attempt to silence him,” Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner Milena Buyum told Arab News.
“The extent of the dissenting opinion of the appeal court judge confirms this concern,” she said. “No one should be subjected to judicial harassment for highlighting allegations of human rights violations.”
Gergerlioglu reported last December that female suspects and detainees had been subjected to humiliating strip searches by police in provinces across Turkey. His allegations were supported by thousands of prisoners who described their experiences of systematic sexual violence at the hands of the police, but Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu denied them and accused the MP of being a “terrorist.”
Gergerlioglu is also a doctor, but was dismissed from the profession by presidential decree. His son Salih told Arab News: “After my dad was dismissed from the medical profession a couple of years ago, he was punched in the middle of the street by someone who claimed that he was a terrorist. I remember very well the big bruise on his face. He was so calm but I wasn’t. He explains to everyone that he was on the right track.”
The regime had “instrumentalized statehood for consolidating its power” rather than reaching out to people in need, and had criminalized dissent, Salih said. “We need to communicate with every vulnerable segment of society, be it Armenians or Kurds, in order to heal these fault lines in society. It is a must.”