Switzerland on Thursday said the Canton of Geneva was responsible for YPG/PKK terror group’s ads on public transport in the city of Geneva, adding that the government could not intervene to stop them.
“The Swiss constitution guarantees the freedom of expression. It lies within the discretion of the authority of the canton to authorize the posting of banners in the public domain, in conformity with Swiss law and public order,” Noemie Charton, spokeswoman of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), said in an email to Anadolu Agency.
“The decision to put up or take down posters does not rest within the competency of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs,” Charton added.
She added Turkey and Switzerland enjoyed good relations and offered to explain the issue further if the need arose.
The ads titled “Free Kurdistan” falsely point out human rights abuse in Afrin, northwestern Syria, where a counter-terror operation by Turkey is ongoing.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
A nonprofit representative slammed Geneva authorities for failing to take action over the ad campaign.
Celil Yilmaz, secretary-general of Strasbourg-based COJEP, told Anadolu Agency the ads on the trams will go down as “a black mark” in history.
“This cannot be explained in the name of freedom of expression,” he said, adding that 100,000 Turkish citizens in the country are being affected by the smear campaign.
“We, as Turkish community in Switzerland, will send a letter to Geneva cantonal authorities and Swiss Federal officials to underline the realities and our discomfort over the ads and request a meeting to discuss the matter,” he said.
He added that he will build a campaign with other civil society representative and discuss the matter in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September.