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Pro-Kurdish MP briefly detained after four nights holed up in Turkey's parliament

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu was controversially expelled from his seat earlier this week as crackdown on HDP continues 
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu shows defiance after his dismissal from parliament (AFP)

Turkey briefly detained a pro-Kurdish MP who had been holed up in parliament since being controversially expelled from his seat earlier this week. 

The move invited criticism from foreign leaders over Turkey's respect for rights, as did Friday's decision to withdraw from a European treaty to protect women from violence. 

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Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu "was brought out by force while he was in pyjamas and slippers" by "nearly 100 police officers," the MP's Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement.

He was released by midday and said police had questioned him on "made up" charges that the party itself was linked to Kurdish militants.  

Gergerlioglu's seat was revoked by parliament on 17 March, removing his immunity from prosecution after a court upheld a conviction for a social media post. 

He was handed a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for spreading "terrorist propaganda" online.

The lawmaker has rejected the accusations, and his expulsion from parliament was criticised by numerous campaign groups and Western governments. 

'Nothing has changed'

Gergerlioglu had remained holed up in a room in the parliament since Wednesday. 

"You used to be able to see this kind of scene in the 1990s. Unfortunately nothing has changed," he said during his arrest, according to comments reported by his party.

The lawmaker was referring to the arrests of several pro-Kurdish MPs during the 1990s when the Kurdish conflict in southeastern Turkey was heightened.

On 17 March, Turkey's chief prosecutor filed a lawsuit seeking to disband the HDP, accusing it of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

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Kurdish supporters used their celebrations for the Newroz spring festival on Saturday to express their anger at Gergerlioglu's treatment and the move against the HDP.

Crowds gathered in Istanbul waved HDP flags and insisted Kurdish political movements will survive crackdowns as they did in the 1990s.

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 co-chair Selahattin Demirtas.

Turkey was also criticised on Saturday by Germany, France and the European Union for withdrawing from the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention, a binding pact to ensure women's protection and equality. 

"We cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension towards the decision of the Turkish government," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said late on 20 March, urging Turkey to rejoin the accord.

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