Unseated Turkey opposition lawmaker appeals to top court

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A Turkish opposition party lawmaker said Tuesday he had applied to the Constitutional Court to cancel the decision to revoke his seat over a conviction related to a social media post, Agence France-Presse reported.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was an outspoken rights advocate and MP for the pro-Kurdish leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) before he was expelled from parliament last week.

The HDP is Turkey’s second-largest opposition party but faces closure since a prosecutor demanded a top court shut down the group last week.

Critics question the judiciary’s independence and analysts expect the HDP to either be banned or have its access to state aid as a party blocked by the top court.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an accusation the party denies.

The PKK, which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has been declared a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Gergerlioğlu would frequently call attention to egregious rights violations like strip-searches in prisons and the disappearances of individuals since a 2016 failed coup against Erdoğan.

After the parliament revoked his parliamentary status last Wednesday, Gergerlioğlu refused to leave and slept in the building until Sunday, when he was briefly detained and then released.

Last month the top appeals court upheld his conviction of “spreading terrorism propaganda” based on a tweet from 2016, two years before he was elected to parliament.

The European Union and the United States have also expressed concern over what happened to Gergerlioğlu and the risk to the HDP.

“This is my last hope. The Constitutional Court can put an end to this farce,” Gergerlioğlu told reporters outside the courthouse in Ankara on Tuesday.

“A decision was made here that rides roughshod over the constitution,” he added, calling on Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop to resign.

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