Turkish police detained pro-Kurdish lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu from his party’s headquarters in parliament, where he had been staying for four nights to protest against the stripping of his MP status over a separate case.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said Gergerlioglu was in pyjamas and slippers when police seized him early on Sunday just before his morning prayers in Ankara, and released a video and court document detailing the latest charges against the party.
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Turkey’s third-largest party has faced a years-long crackdown culminating on Wednesday when a top prosecutor moved to shutter it over alleged links to Kurdish fighters – charges the HDP denies as a “political coup”.
Hours before that move, the parliament had stripped Gergerlioglu, a human rights activist, of his MP status and related protections over an earlier conviction for spreading “terrorist propaganda” by sharing a news story link on Twitter.
He intended to remain holed up at the HDP’s parliament offices. But police seized him, the court document said, in order to get a statement related to a new investigation launched over alleged chants heard on Wednesday amid party members’ move from the General Assembly to the HDP’s headquarters.
The chant “Long live leader Apo” was allegedly heard, the document said – an apparent reference to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Ocalan, jailed since 1999. The PKK is deemed a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
As part of the new probe, police determined that Gergerlioglu was “still acting like an MP” and that, unlawfully, he did not leave a state building, the document said.
Turkey’s Western allies condemned the move to shut the HDP, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, which has a parliamentary majority with nationalists, defended it.
Thousands of people rallied in Istanbul on Saturday in support of the HDP.