am writing to you to bring to your attention the status of the
Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek minority in Turkey.
I remain greatful to you for responding to previous letters that
I have sent you.I would appreciate whatever attention you can
give to the concerns outlined below.
date, there has been no improvement in the status of Turkey's
Ethnic Greek population nor has there been any attempt by the
government in Ankara to stabilize this community's status by lifting
its present blockade against the Patriarchate of Constantinople
which represents the centuries long persecution and survival of
the Hellenic population under Turkish rule. The blockade I am
referring to is the Turkish government's forceful closure of the
Patriarchate's Theological Seminary on the island of Halki in
the Sea of Marmara.
Ecumenical Patriarchate is a worldwide center of the Eastern Orthodox
Church. It hold a primacy of honor over the Orthodox Churches
of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria,
Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Finland, and the Czech Republic.
It is an institution that claims as its founder one of the Apostles
of Jesus Christ, Saint Andrew. The Patriarchate has moved from
the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Aghia Sophia) following the Turkish
conquest to different Churches over the centuries but it has remained
in the same city during the era of the Byzantine Empire and predates
the arrival of the Turks by well over a century.
closure of the Halki Seminary is a violation of human rights and
religious freedom. It is a move meant by the Turkish authorities
to finish off the Greek Orthodox population that is supposed to
be protected by the Treaty of Lausanne. Earlier in the century,
the Ottomans engaged in a genocidal policy of extermination against
its Greek population.
1923, only 100,000 Greeks remained in Turkey whereas well over
one and a half million had existed in Turkey during the previous
few years. Over the last several years, the Ecumenical Patriarchate
has been bombed four times, at least 2 Greek Orthodox cemetaries
have been desecrated, and several individuals of Greek descent
have been murdered.Human rights abuses against the Greek community
closure of the Patriarchal Seminary of Halki is state sponsored
discrimination. In my view, the stature of the Patriarchate of
Constantinople, holy to millions of Orthodox Christians, is worthy
of attention as are its still suffering faithful in Turkey. In
January 1998, a caretaker of a Greek Church was brutally murdered.
In the fall of 1999, a six year old Greek boy on the Island of
Imbros was burned to death following an arson attack.
I have been following the coverage of Human Rights Watch for several
years. In all candor, I must state that there seems to be a total
and complete indifference to the plight of Greeks under Turkish
rule in both Turkey as well as Turkish occupied Cyprus. I am alarmed
at the continued absence of any coverage of human rights violations
by Turkey in Cyprus. Indeed, the failure of HRW to document the
brutal and politically motivated murders of Greek Cypriots Tasos
Isaac and Solomos Solomou in 1996 remains disturbing.
research purposes, I would be interested in learning what criteria
is used to determine what will be documented in both the annual
HRW World Report as well as individual Country Reports. There
has been a long and consistant pattern of neglecting the Greeks
of Turkey and Cyprus, and it is troubling that ethnic cleansing
by Turkey is greeted with such silence at a time when Ankara is
also declaring war on history by denying the Armenian genocide
and intimidating politicians in America thus exporting their Kemalist
censorship abroad. At present, Turkey is continuing to declare
war on its Kurds and Ankara continues to be responsible for the
dissapearances and torture of its own people. The reason why Turkey
is politically retarded and why it is an enormous cesspool of
human rights violations is because the leadership of the Young
Turks and Mustafa Kemal were allowed to slaughter millions of
Christian Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians and were never punished
nor forced to confront the truth.
the last Greeks of Turkey are dismissed as insignificent. This
is a shame and a tragedy. The Greeks of Turkey and the Ecumenical
Patriarchate, who are the heirs of the survivors of Turkey's campaigns
of mass murder and genocide link the past and present of Turkey.
The burning of Smyrna and the extermination of the Greeks and
the refusal of the world to punish the Turkish leadership for
the genocide of Armenians and Greeks paved the way for all the
present day atrocities ocurring in both the prisons of Turkey
as well as in the mountains of Kurdistan.
Rights institutions should find the continued closing of Halki
troubling. Halki is a theological Seminary and a place of learning.
What better symbol is there to illustrate how an authoritarian
and undemocratic state like Turkey turns its back on the concepts
of learning and enlightenment. One can see the evolution of Turkish
paranoia over three decades when Turkish state policy evolved
fromclosing a Christian Seminary to prohibiting Islamic headdress
for Muslim women.
again, I am writing to Human Rights Watch hoping to make a case
for documenting the plight of Greeks in Turkey. I have attempted
as best I could to place Turkey's Greeks and their history, along
with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the proper context where
they belong. It is my belief that silence is censorship and there
has been too much silence as far as Turkey is concerned.
in the past HRW has responded to my letters by claiming there
are not enough resources to cover the Greeks of Turkey. In January
1999, HRW published a country report on the Muslims of Thrace.
Furthermore, HRW gave a grant to a Muslim from Thrace, Abdulhalim
Dede for alleged "past persecution" by Greek authorities.
HRW admits that this individual was imprisoned "for installing
an antenna without a permit" yet concludes that "Mr.
Dede was singled out primarily because he is a Turk".
seriously wonder if there will be any similar honors coming for
Cypriots Tasos Isaac, (beaten to death by Turkish forces) or Solomos
Solmou, who was shot to death by a Turkish sniper when he proceeded
to engage in a form of political protest by removing a Turkish
flag from a flag pole. I do not see any such recognition for Titina
Loizidou, a Greek Cypriot women who's property has been stolen
by the Turkish army. Or perhaps for the 1,600 or so Greek Cypriots
missing ever since Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974.
candidates for recognition by HRW might be Patriarch Bartholomeos,
victim of four assasination attempts, as well as Metropolitan
Iakovos a member of the Holy Synod who was arrested by Turkish
Police in 1997. I would like to know why HRW cannot document the
Greeks of Turkey and Cyprus who's existence is threatened and
who's political plight cannot possibly be compared with the tolerance
shown by Greek authorities towards the Muslims of Thrace?
concluding, I respectfully ask for information regarding what
criteria HRW uses to document a particular community in general.
How much time and resources are used to document the Muslims of
Thrace and why can't some of those be used to document the Greeks
of Turkey and Cyprus in the interests of historical and political
fairness and accuracy. I look forward to a response.