17 March 2021
Human Rights Defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu Will Not Walk Alone!
We, human rights defenders, regret to witness and live how the space of fundamental rights and freedoms has been gradually shrinking, how the judiciary has been instrumentalized, and how the political power has been disregarding voters’ will in Turkey.
Today we stand witness to another incident of this state of affairs at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT). Kocaeli MP for People’s Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi -HDP), Dr. Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu’s membership in the parliament was terminated today on the ground of an imprisonment sentence delivered because of a news report that he had shared on social media in 2016.
Termination of Dr. Gergerlioğlu’s membership in the parliament is nothing other than an attempt to coerce human rights defenders since he has always worked to protect and promote rights and freedoms both as a physician and a human rights defender who has never backed off and pressed ahead in his endeavors for human rights advocacy after being elected as an MP.
We do know that our dear friend Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu is targeted because during his term at the GNAT he has been the voice of victims of emergency decree laws, those who were subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prisons and police stations, those whose social and cultural rights were ignored.
Turkey is obliged to protect human rights defenders in line with all the provisions set forth in the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders along with other international documents it is a party to. Yet, the exact opposite is done. A human rights defender and an elected member of the parliament is now being punished by a ruling that proves to be a legal oddity.
We, as people who have always believed in universal human rights and democracy, condemn and refuse this unlawful decision because:
This move violates freedom of thought and expression.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu stood trial and was convicted because of a news report he had shared on social media. Furthermore, there is not even a judicial process into the news report in question as of today.
This move violates the right to a fair trial.
Proceedings against Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu were not stopped in spite of the fact that he was an MP. His sentence was finalized through an accelerated prosecution process following the fact that his statements on human rights violations made their way into the agenda of the country.
This move violates the right to political participation.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu is an MP elected by the votes of the people. Those who say at every opportunity that they “did not recognize any other will above the people’s will” have mobilized to hurriedly strip him of his parliamentary seat. Moreover, they have not even waited for the judgment of the Constitutional Court on his application based on precedents previously delivered for MPs by the court.
This move violates the right to peace.
The Preamble to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines the fact that human rights and freedoms are the foundations of peace. As such, writing on peace and sharing texts on peace are by definition a part of human rights advocacy.
In brief, this move against Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, which can never be accepted, violates the right to freedom of expression, right to a fair trial, right to political participation, and right to peace that are guaranteed by the Constitution and international documents.
We do remind all that we stand with Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and urge all groups for human rights, peace and democracy to stand in solidarity with Gergerlioğlu against injustice.
HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION
HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION OF TURKEY