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Western Thrace Turkish Minority and Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks were at the UN - 28.11.2013

ABTTF and Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association have for the first time co-organised a side event at the UN Forum on Minority Issues

Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association have co-organised a side event on “Freedom of Religion and Challenges faced by religious/ethnic Minorities in Greece” on 27 November 2013 during the 6th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues.

First at the hospital then at the conference: Reaction to ban on the use of Turkish is on rise

ABTTF Vice-President Rıdvan Hacıbedel, at his welcoming address, raised the issue on prohibition of use of Turkish by pointing the recent incident of 22 November 2013 at the conference on Lausanne Peace Treaty and regulations in relations to the Minority. Vice- President Hacıbedel as-serted that despite previous confirmation of organisers of the event and the very presence of Turkish-Greek translators at the conference hall, a journalist from the Minority was not allowed to give his presentation in Turkish.

Panayote Dimitras: Ban on the use of Turkish has posed considerable damage to efforts on confidence building between majority and the Minority

At the side event moderated by ABTTF International Affairs Director Melek Kırmacı Arık, Panay-ote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor Spokesperson, informed Komotini State Hospital recently issued a decree prohibiting the doctors use an “unknown” language on duty. Dimitras criticized the recent incident occurred at the conference in Komotini and made remark on Greek speakers’ indif-ferent attitude that they were not in solidarity with the Minority and even they did not leave the conference hall to show support.

Kaymakçı: Recognised as “Greek Muslims” Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks are barely known!

Having taken floor after Dimitras, who delivered a speech on problems of Jews and other religious minorities in Greece, President of Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Asso-ciation Prof. Dr. Mustafa Kaymakçı indicated in comparison with the Western Thrace Turkish Minority problems of Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks are much less known.
Kaymakçı informed Rhodes, Kos and Dodecanese Turks living in Aegean island, ceded to Greece at the Paris Agreement in 1947, are recognised as “Greek Muslims” thus, a population of approxi-mately 6.000 Turkish speaking citizens are deprived of education in mother tongue, while the religious leadership, hence the office of Mufti, is vacant since 1972.

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l Director Willy Fautre, in follow up with his report drafted upon the fact-finding mission organised to Western Thrace in October 2013, stated at 2011 Univer-sal Periodic Review Greece had not accepted any of the recommendations presented by Turkey for settlement of problems of the Western Thrace Turkish Minority.

While having reiterated recommendations to Greek authorities upon solution of problems faced by the Minority, Mr. Fautre provided in-depth explanation on religious freedom and Mufti problem. In concrete terms, Mr Fautre reported Komotini elected Mufti İbrahim Şerif had been sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment in 1996, which had later on been refuted European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Komotini elected Mufti İbrahim Şerif had been declared in culpable.

Abdurrahman: 240 Imams Law abrogates the religious freedom Minority had been granted through international law

ABTTF Board member Dr. Sebahattin Abdurrahman provided in-depth analysis on “240 Imams Law” and reasons for the Minority to react to the respective regulation. Abdurrahman uttered no clarifications has been introduced regarding the assignment of 240 staff to “teach the Qur’an” on the first state of implementation of the regulation. Abdurrahman specified the concerns that the re-spective “Qur’an teachers” are not clearly defined as for their academic and scholar backgrounds, whether they would be Imams, religious education teachers or Muslim preachers. Having informed that in accordance with international agreements which are set to define the status and rights of the Minority and also considering proceedings of the international law, the 240 Imams Law is regulation is unlawful, Abdurrahman stated implementation of the respective law would fully abrogate the reli-gious freedom Minority had been granted through international law.

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