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The inconvenient impact of Gergerlioğlu

14 27 2

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has now lost his parliamentary mandate and been stamped with a prison sentence of 2.5 years. This is a blow to Turkey’s democracy, as is the closure case against the People's Democratic Party (HDP). Let us take a look at why he became a target of the government in the first place.

In 2014, an NGO organized pre-election trips to different regions within Turkey ahead of the first presidential elections. I signed up for the Thrace trip to Edirne and Kırklareli. There were both Turkish and foreign journalists present. We visited the local political parties, journalists, and business associations and spoke with people in the bazaars and city centers. This was a rather younger crowd of mainly freelancers. However, there was also a more senior man, who then wrote a regular column for the online Turkish portal T24.

On the first evening, we all were at dinner near the Evros/Meriç river. Some of us ordered beer or even rakı. The T24 columnist finished his meal quickly and got up, saying it was sinful for him to be close to people drinking alcohol, but that he did not judge anyone for drinking.

A year later, similar pre-election tours were offered ahead of the June 7, 2015 elections. This time I signed up for Kayseri-Konya. The crowd and program were similar. The T24 columnist was also there again. We spoke a bit more this time. I learned that he was a........

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