The delegation composed of the representatives of ABTTF and WTMUGA expressed the hate speech targeting the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece.
The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (WTMUGA) representing the Turkish community in Western Thrace attended the 13th session of the United Nations (UN) Forum on Minority Issues under the heading “Hate Speech, Social Media and Minorities” on 19-20 November 2020. Deniz Servantie from ABTTF Brussels Office and the WTMUGA member Kerem Abdurahimoğlu attended the Forum which was held online due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Hate speech which is a part of systematic discrimination against the Turkish community in Western Thrace was put to the forefront
Intervening during the session entitled “Causes, scale and impact of hate speech targeting minorities in social media”, ABTTF noted that the ethnic Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace whose status has been determined by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne is not recognised and denied by Greece. Further indicating that hate speech against the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece is prevalent in much of the political and media arenas, ABTTF explained that there had been attempts at scapegoating the Turkish community during the first period of the coronavirus pandemic.
Intervening at the same session, WTMUGA said that the Turkish community in Western Thrace had been targeted with nationalistic and hate speech in the majority media in Greece both at local and national levels and that this constitutes a direct violation of Article 19 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) with respect to freedom of opinion and expression. WTMUGA demanded from the Greek state to recognize the ethnic Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and to take the necessary measures to prevent hate speech and hate crimes that are its natural consequences.
Intervening during the session entitled “Regulation of online hate speech: the role and responsibility of intergovernmental organizations, States, internet companies and social media platforms” on the second day of the Forum, ABTTF indicated that the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece had been subjected to numerous hate attacks in the last years and that institutions and places of worship belonging to the Turkish community had been attacked by unknown perpetrators. Calling on the Greek government to take measures against hate speech and crimes targeting the Turkish community in Western Thrace, ABTTF underlined the need to strengthen mechanisms in order to accurately identify hate speech present on social media platforms which may well lead to hate crimes and to take the necessary sanctions in that respect.
Using its right of reply at the Forum, Greece repeated its official thesis that there is only a Muslim and religious minority in Western Thrace and further added that Greece had been taking initiatives against hate speech.