Turkish parliament voted on Wednesday to revoke the parliamentarian status of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), due to the recent approval of a prison sentence he was handed down for a tweet he posted in 2016.

Following his expulsion from the parliament, HDP deputies protested the ruling AK party by staging a sit-in protest in the general assembly of the parliament.

“The will of people cannot be trampled underfoot. Seeking peace is no crime!” Gergerlioğlu said, while flashing a V sign.

Gergerlioğlu, a fierce critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was sentenced by a Turkish court to two years, six months in prison early in February 2018 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda by retweeting a news story regarding the Turkey’s Kurdish conflict and the government-led peace process in 2016. His prison sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on February 19, 2021.

The US government says the move is “troubling”

The U.S. State Department said in a written statement on Wednesday that the Turkish Parliament’s move to strip  Gergerlioğlu of his parliamentary seat is “troubling.”

Calling on the Turkish government to respect freedom of expression, the Department said the following: “We are also monitoring the initiation of efforts to dissolve the People’s Democratic Party, a decision that would unduly subvert the will of Turkish voters, further undermine democracy in Turkey, and deny millions of Turkish citizens their chosen representation.”