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Swiss city of Geneva refuses to bow to Turkish pressure over Erdogan photo

The City of Geneva will not close an exhibition that features a photo linking Turkish President Erdogan to the death of a protester. How Turkey will respond is now anyone's guess.

The exhibition is being staged by Geneva-based photographer of Kurdish and Armenian origin

Demir Sonmez

in the Place des Nations, a prominent square in front of the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva.

"Geneva and Switzerland stand for freedom of expression," Urban Environment and Security Department head Guillaume Barazzone told public broadcaster SRF Tuesday.

Turkey's embassy in Bern said in a written statement Tuesday that there had been an attempt to "establish verbal contact with the Geneva city authorities" to inform them that the photo had raised "reactions" by some Geneva-based Turkish non-governmental groups.

The offending piece

One of Sonmez's large photographs is of a protest banner with the portrait of a teenager who died after a 2013 anti-government protest in Istanbul. The photo is one of 58 large format photographs on display in the Place des Nations until May 1.

"My name is Berkin Elvan. Police killed me on orders of the Turkish prime minister," the text on the banner reads.

Berkin Elvan

Berkin Elvan was a 15-year-old Turkish boy who was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer in Istanbul while out to buy bread for his family during the June 2013 Taksim anti-government protests in Turkey. He died on March 11, 2014, following a 269-day coma.

Widespread demonstrations erupted following his death. Erdogan, who was then prime minister, said the young man had been a member of a terrorist organization.

Turkish president under fire

Chancellor Angela Merkel with President Erdogan

Chancellor Angela Merkel with President Erdogan

The Turkish government is attacking critics and political rivals at home and abroad. These include German comedian Jan Böhmermann, who faces criminal proceedings in his home country after insulting Erdogan in a televised skit.

There are 1,845 people facing prosecution in Turkey for insulting the president.

jbh/jm (dpa)

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