in

Turkish court upholds jail sentence for pro-Kurdish lawmaker 

Turkish court upholds jail sentence for pro-Kurdish lawmaker 
Turkey’s Court of Appeal has upheld a prison sentence for pro-Kurdish lawmaker and activist Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu. (@gergerlioglueng)

Israel to link Leviathan gas field to Egypt LNG plants, minister says
UN nuclear chief in Iran as it threatens watchdog’s cameras
Sullivan says US has started communicating with Iran over detained Americans
Libyan interior minister survives attack on motorcade
Palestinian health workers stand next to a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine sent by the UAE, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip Feb. 21, 2021. (Reuters)
Palestinian health workers stand next to a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine sent by the UAE, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip Feb. 21, 2021. (Reuters)

ANKARA: Turkey’s Court of Appeal has upheld a prison sentence for a pro-Kurdish lawmaker and activist.
A two-and-a-half-year jail term is being sought for Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, who is also a member of a parliamentary commission responsible for monitoring human rights violations and has consistently drawn attention to allegations of rights abuses. 
“We are with him until the end,” his supporters tweeted.
Gergerlioglu is a deputy in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which the government accuses of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
He was convicted on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” for retweeting a T24 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 added. “No one should be subjected to judicial harassment for highlighting allegations of human rights violations.”
Gergerlioglu said last December that female suspects and detainees had been subjected to humiliating strip searches by police in provinces across Turkey. 
While his allegations were supported by thousands of prisoners who told dissident media outlets about their experiences of systematic sexual violence at the hands of the police, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu denied them and accused Gergerlioglu of being a “terrorist.”
The lawmaker is also a doctor, but was dismissed from the profession by presidential decree.
“After my dad was dismissed from his medical profession a couple of years ago, he was punched in the middle of the street by someone who claimed that my dad was a terrorist,” Gergerlioglu’s son Salih told Arab News. “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 ruling government had “instrumentalized statehood for consolidating its power” rather than reaching out to people in need, he said, and had prioritized the party over society by criminalizing dissident people. “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. Struggling for a cause starts with knowing the land you live in. Thanks to my dad, I have been immersed in the struggle for defending human rights from my childhood. I owe him a lot.”
Salih founded the Movement of the Others with friends who felt alienated in Turkish society because of reasons connected to their identities.
“This society will change one day,” he added, “and this transformation will be realized with the cooperation and mutual understanding between those who are oppressed. Whatever they do, they cannot silence my dad, who keeps telling me to gauge my justness all the time with fairness and not to give up my cause if I am right.”
Prosecutors have prepared summaries of proceedings against nine HDP lawmakers over investigations into 2014’s Kobani protests. They have been submitted to the Justice Ministry and the lawmakers will go before a court if they are stripped of their parliamentary immunity.

Reference