Opposition MP returns to parliament four months after expulsion

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A lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) returned to his seat in the Turkish Parliament on Friday, four months after he was stripped of his parliamentary status based on a conviction over a social media post in 2016.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, also a well-known human rights activist who had been behind bars since April 2 after his conviction was upheld, was released from Ankara’s Sincan Prison on July 6 following a decision from Turkey’s Constitutional Court. The top court 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.

Following his release from prison, Gergerlioğlu petitioned the Turkish Parliament, demanding a return to his parliamentary seat. On Friday, a ruling by the Kocaeli 2nd High Criminal Court in line with the top court’s decision was read out in parliament, allowing the deputy to return.

“His return has been magnificent,” tweeted Gergerlioğlu’s son Salih, who was briefly detained earlier this month while protesting the failure of Turkish authorities to immediately free his father from jail in line with the Constitutional Court ruling. The top court announced its decision on July 1, but Gergerlioğlu was forced to wait five days for his release.

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.

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 attention of the legislators.

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