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Turks: Continued Oppression of Greeks



THE GREEKS OF TURKEY
1993-1994-1995 FACT SHEET

During 1994, the Greek Community in Turkey witnessed defamation of its religious sanctuaries, threats against its religious leaders, discrimination against its youth, and intimidation of its advocates.

Defamation of Religious Sanctuaries

In July and August 1993, the Christian Orthodox cemetery in Yenikoy, Istanbul, was attacked by vandals and desecrated.

In October 1994, the ancient Greek-Orthodox Church of Haghia Eirene in Istanbul was used as a stage of a beauty contest. The Church was built by the Emperor Justinianus I in the sixth century AD. Since then, it was used as the Imperial Chapel of Constantinople. In 1453, after the
fall of Constantinople to the Turks, it was converted to a
mosque. Turkish Republic transformed it to a museum in 1923. Haghia Eirene is one of the most important existing Orthodox monuments, classified by UNESCO as part of the world's cultural patrimony.

Religious and Educational Discrimination
The Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is oldest active institution in Eastern Europe and the Balkans today. It is the spiritual center for more than 250,000,000 Orthodox Christians worldwide, including approximately 5,000,000 in the United States.

The Turkish Government arbitrarily closed the Halke Patriarchal School of Theology in 1971.  The current government refuses to re-open the School, in spite of the continuous requests by Patriarch Vartholomeos I. The closing of the Halke School of Theology is in violation of
International Treaties to which Turkey has been a signatory, including the Treaty of Lausanne, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and the Charter of Paris;


Discrimination in Higher Education

In September 1994, more than one hundred Greek high-school graduates in Constantinople were not allowed to enroll to Turkish Universities. The pupils had succeeded in the nation-wide entrance exams. The pretext for not allowing their enrollment was that they did not attend the
course of physical education during the last school-year. It was because of the Turkish authorities, however, that this course was not taught: Turkey violated the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 by not allowing the entrance of teachers from Greece to teach in Greek minority schools.

Civil Rights

The Turkish state, with a number of secret decrees (1964, 1985, 1986), revoked the right of ethnic Greeks to trade, buy and inherit properties. Greeks who are trying to retain their properties have to sustain years of judicial struggle; most of them are obliged to sell out their property to Turks for nominal prices.

Elpida Frangopoulou, an ethnic Greek lawyer in Istanbul was charged with "insulting the Turkish nation" when she protested after being discriminated against when trying to get a copy of her high-school diploma. After two years of judicial struggle she was convicted to two months imprisonment and was put on probation. Ms. Frangopoulou is well-known for her continuous struggle to save the vast wealth of thousands of ethnic Greeks of Constantinople following a 1964 secret Turkish decree which confiscated their properties.

The Aegean islands of Imvros and Tenedos, which under the Lausanne Treaty were supposed to be granted special autonomy status, are still being used as open prisons. Inmates have been terrorizing the Greek inhabitants who are gradually leaving their ancestral lands.

Besides the Greek communities of Constantinople, Imvros and Tenedos, there are other ethnic Greek communities throughout Turkey. Some have lost their Christian Orthodox faith, others still practice it underground (underground-Christians). All of them have no right whatsoever to express freely, maintain and cherish their culture, identity, and language. Those who reside outside Constantinople and remain Christian Orthodox, are obliged by Turkish law to perform their religious services in Turkish.

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