ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police arrested a prominent pro-Kurdish party politician on Friday, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported, weeks after he was stripped of his parliamentary seat due to his conviction for a social media post that the courts deemed “terrorist propaganda.”
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a human rights advocate and former legislator of the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, was taken from his home in Ankara by anti-terrorism police, the Anadolu agency reported.
He was expected to be taken to prison to serve a 2 1/2-year jail sentence he was given for re-tweeting a 2016 article about a call for peace by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. An appeals court confirmed the conviction, saying he was “legitimizing” the PKK by sharing the link, which included a photograph of armed fighters.
His expulsion from parliament was widely regarded as part of a Turkish government crackdown on the HDP, which has seen its former leaders, lawmakers and thousands of activists arrested. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government accuses the party of having links to the PKK.
Gergerlioglu, the former head of an Islamist human rights association, has exposed several human rights violations in Turkey, including alleged illegal strip-searches of detainees by police. He worked as a pulmonologist but was fired through an emergency decree. He has advocated for the tens of thousands of other civil servants who were purged in the aftermath of a failed 2016 coup attempt.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States. It has led an armed insurgency against Turkey since 1984 and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. A fragile cease-fire and peace talks collapsed in 2015.
Gergerlioglu staged a days-long protest in parliament to denounce his expulsion but was taken away by police. Video of his detention showed police officers dragging him away.
Earlier this week, Turkey’s highest court rejected an indictment by a top appeals court prosecutor who is seeking to disband the HDP for its alleged ties to the PKK . The court citing procedural deficiencies.