By Fatih Erel
A Turkish nongovernmental organization criticized Swiss authorities in Geneva on Wednesday for not allowing it the use of billboards to draw attention to the PKK terror group’s victims in Turkey.
In a statement, the Turkish Community in Switzerland, which is also known as Association Turque en Suisse (ATS), pointed out that Swiss authorities had failed to act when the same billboards were used to demand the release of the head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, who remains in jail in Turkey.
"In the autumn of 2017, various groups demanded the release of the head of a global terrorist organization by using the electronic billboards in the stations of the Swiss rail network [SBB] in Basel, Bern, Lucerne and Zurich, disturbing the peaceful coexistence in Switzerland," the ATS said.
It added Swiss authorities were not giving the NGO permission to use billboards to show the victims of PKK terrorist organization on the pretext of security concerns.
Noting that the ATS remained committed to peaceful coexistence of minorities and migrants living in Switzerland, it said: "The ATS was prevented by the SBB from placing a notice which focuses on the victims of terror.
"If it lies within the freedom of expression of Switzerland when several groups call for the release of the detainees of a terrorist organization imprisoned in Turkey, then ATS's call for supporting victims of terror should also be considered in the same manner.
"If the demand for the release of the head of a global terrorist organization does not raise security concerns at the Swiss stations, the demand for condemning global terror with its victims should not raise security concerns, unless there is a double standard," it said.
Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women and children.
More than 1,200 have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the group resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state following a fragile cease-fire.