Greece: The Turks of Western Thrace

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This report examines the situation of the ethnic Turkish minority of Thrace, a region of Greece. It serves as a follow-up to two earlier reports issued by Human Rights Watch, Destroying Ethnic Identity: The Turks of Greece (August 1990) and "Greece: Improvements for Turkish Minority;Problems Remain" (April 1992). Ethnic Turks have resided in Thrace since at least the fourteenth century, and they are Greek citizens. In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, the Turkish minority of Thrace was granted a wide array of rights to ensure protection of their religion, language,culture, and equality before the law.1 In addition, as Greek citizens, ethnic Turks also enjoy the protection of Greek law, as well as of the European Convention of Human Rights. Despite such protections, however, ethnic Turks suffer a host of human rights violations. The Greek state has for the most part been unable to accept the fact that one can be a loyal Greek citizen and, at the same time, an ethnic Turk proud of his or her culture and religion. Turks are viewed by the state with suspicion, the strength of which largely reflects the state of Turkish-Greek relations.