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Prominent rights advocate to run for parliament again amid pressure from supporters

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Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a prominent human rights advocate, has changed his mind and decided to run for parliament again at the urging of his supporters.

Gergerlioğlu caused disappointment when he announced his decision on Twitter last week not to run for a parliamentary seat again, saying he wanted to concentrate more on civil society work.

Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14.

His followers on Twitter called on him to revisit his decision, saying his presence in the parliament is important because he’s an ardent rights advocate who is honest and does not discriminate among people.

Gergerlioğlu announced on Twitter on Thursday that he had to change his mind about his decision because so many people told him to continue as a member of parliament.

He submitted the necessary paperwork to HDP headquarters on Thursday.

“It’s a very honorable job to represent our people. I will do my best to be worthy of your support,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted.

Gergerlioğlu’s rights advocacy has frequently made him a target of the Turkish government since he has harshly criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his officials for widespread rights violations, especially following a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

In July 2021 Gergerlioğlu returned to his seat in parliament, four months after he was stripped of his parliamentary status based on a conviction over a social media post in 2016.

He had been jailed for four months after his conviction was upheld and released from prison later based on 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 had been violated through his imprisonment.

The lawmaker’s conviction and the removal of his parliamentary status attracted global outrage at the time, with many calling it a kind of punishment for his activism and  politically motivated.

Gergerlioğlu was attacked by Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers after he brought widespread claims of strip-searches and harassment in prisons and detention centers to the attention of legislators in December 2020.

The HDP politician has been outspoken about the rights violations suffered by victims of a crackdown launched by the government in the aftermath of the failed coup under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Gergerlioğlu, a medical doctor by profession, is among the more than 130,000 civil servants who were removed from their jobs in a widespread purge following the coup on allegations that they had links to terrorist organizations.

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