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Top Turkey court rules pro-Kurdish opposition MP's rights violated

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish pro-Kurdish opposition lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu

Turkey's top court has ruled that the rights of a pro-Kurdish opposition politician has been violated by his detention on alleged terrorism charges, opening the way for his possible release and restoration of his parliamentary status.

Turkish-language Haberturk television news network reported the development on Thursday, saying the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that the right of Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), to be elected and engage in political activity as well as his right to personal freedom and security had been violated.

Gergerlioglu was stripped of his parliamentary status in March and then jailed in April after his two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for spreading “terrorist propaganda” online became final.

The opposition lawmaker rejected the accusations at the time and applied to Turkey's top court to annul the parliament's decision.

The expulsion of the pro-Kurdish MP, who is an outspoken human rights defender and a staunch critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was widely criticized by numerous campaign groups and European governments.

The Turkish broadcaster said on Thursday that Gergerlioglu was expected to be released from jail and his file would be sent to parliament for him to regain his status.

Announcing the ruling on his Twitter account, Salih Gergerlioglu, the son of the jailed politician, briefly said, "The Constitutional Court has given a ruling of 'right violation' for my father. My father is going to be released; he is going to be released."

The HDP, the third-largest party in the Turkish parliament, has been under a constant crackdown since 2016 with the arrest of several of its lawmakers and leaders, including its charismatic former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas.

The Constitutional Court on Monday put the opposition and pro-Kurdish party on trial for alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, setting the stage for its possible shutdown.

The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of having links to the PKK, which is listed as terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU. The group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

The pro-Kurdish political party has denied formal links to the militants and described such allegations as retribution for its strenuous opposition to the government in Ankara.        


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