Turkey’s parliament stripped pro-Kurdish lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu of his MP status on Wednesday after his conviction for spreading terrorist propaganda was upheld, sustaining a long-running crackdown on the assembly’s third-largest party.
The move escalated pressure on his Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which faces growing nationalist calls to be banned for militant links. Many of its elected lawmakers, mayors, and officials have been jailed and unseated in recent years.
“The people’s will cannot be trampled underfoot. Wanting peace is not a crime,” Gergerlioglu, a human rights activist, said on Twitter, vowing to resist what he called a “coup” against the assembly shortly before the speaker read out the court ruling.
The revocation of his status reduced the HDP’s seats in the 600-member assembly to 55. The MP status of two other HDP lawmakers was removed last year due to convictions against them.
The HDP has slammed the appeals court ruling on grounds the legal process against Gergerlioglu should have been halted given his MP status, and that he was punished for simply sharing on Twitter the link to a news story.
Gergerlioglu was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in jail for sharing a 2016 story that included comments from the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and European Union.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, his AK Party, and their nationalist allies accuse the HDP of links to the PKK. The HDP denies such ties.