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Parallel report by ABTTF to the Greece 2018 Human Rights Report - 29.03.2019

In its parallel report, ABTTF expressed the injustices and problems experienced by the Turkish community in Western Thrace.

Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) has prepared a parallel report in response to the statements related to the Turkish community in Western Thrace in the Greece 2018 Human Rights Report published by the United States Department of State. In its parallel report submitted to the US authorities, ABTTF gave detailed information on the issues related to the Turkish community in Western Thrace and reported on current developments which are not covered in the USA report.

In its parallel report, ABTTF underlined that the Greece does not recognize the ethnic Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and stated that today, there is no official association with a Turkish name registered by local courts in Greece. ABTTF noted that Greece has not yet implemented judgements of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding the Xanthi Turkish Union, Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rodopi and Evros Minority Youth Association even though more than ten years have passed after the judgements. ABTTF also highlighted that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe follows closely the implementation of the ECtHR judgements on the so-called “Bekir Ousta Group Cases” and provided information in detail about the ongoing legal process at the national Greek courts.

Regarding the issues on education, ABTTF stated that the autonomy of education of the Turkish community in Western Thrace which was guaranteed by the treaties has been undermined by the Greek government’s policies and laws the in the last years. In its report, ABTTF added that bilingual minority primary schools were closed on the grounds of economic reasons and the number of minority primary schools which was 194 in 2008 has decreased to 128 in 2018. ABTTF indicated that there are no bilingual minority kindergartens where children belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace could learn Turkish in early childhood and that the Greek government ignores the demands of the Turkish community in Western Thrace to open bilingual minority kindergartens in Turkish and Greek languages in the region. By calling on Greece to return the autonomy of education of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, ABTTF demanded the opening of the Turkish-Greek bilingual minority kindergartens within the minority education system.

In its parallel report, ABTTF noted that the prosecutions aiming to intimidate and suppress the representatives and notables of the Turkish community in Western Thrace continued in 2018 and informed that a lawsuit was filed against İbrahim Şerif, elected Mufti of Komotini on the grounds of usurping “the Mufti office”.

Regarding freedom of religion, ABTTF reminded that the Turkish community in Western Thrace was granted the right to choose their own religious leaders through the 1940 Athens Treaty and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and explained that Greece still does not recognize the Muftis elected by the Turkish community in Western Thrace. Furthermore, ABTTF stated that the law adopted at the Greek Parliament in January 2018 which renders the sharia powers used by the Muftis in the field of family and heritage optional, is another step towards abolishing the religious autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace.

You may access Greece 2018 Human Rights Report published by the United States Department of State at the following link https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/289379.pdf
 


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