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Geneva rejects Turkish pressure over controversial photo

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Geneva rejects Turkish pressure over controversial photo


A photographic exhibition in Geneva is at the centre of a diplomatic row between Switzerland and Turkey.
Once again a cultural event contains criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ankara has asked for it to be removed.

The expo includes a photo of a boy who was shot in an anti-government demonstration in Istanbul. Beside the boy’s photo is a message blaming his death on Turkish government orders to the Police.

Photographer Demir Sonmez is a Kurdish-Armenian who gave up his Turkish nationality in 2005. He is proud of his exhibition which also includes dozens of photos of demonstrations which have taken place in front of the United Nations in Geneva over the years.

He said he was shocked at the Turkish reaction:

“I am shocked but at the same time I am not surprised, because Mr. Erdogan and his government have no tolerance whatsoever for freedom of expression and freedom of information.”

Geneva has rejected Ankara’s request and its Vice Mayor Guillaume Barazzone said:

“Geneva will not allow any country to have an impact in this matter. Switzerland is a country with freedom of expression. Therefore the administrative council will support this Exhibition and it is out of the question to remove this photograph.”

The Swiss decision is in contrast to that of Germany’s recent move to allow prosecutors to pursue a case against a satirist after he recited a crude poem about the Turkish leader on German television.

Turkish prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting Erdogan since he became president, according to Turkey’s justice ministry. Those targeted include journalists, cartoonists and even children.

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