MINELRES: ABTTF News: Western Thrace Turkish Minority has won a victory before the ECHR

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Sun Mar 30 14:20:06 2008


Original sender: ABTTF News<news@abttf.org>


Press Release 
Western Thrace Turkish Minority has won a victory before the ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights(ECHR), has notified in writing its
Chamber judgments in the cases of Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis (Xanthi Turkish
Union) and Others v. Greece and Emin and Others v. Greece and the Court
convicted Greece for the cases that was brought before the ECHR in the
date of July 2005 by the Xanthi Turkish Union which was abolished
because it had denomination “Turk” in its name and the Cultural
Association Turkish Women of the Region of Rodopi which had never been
registered because the Greek courts had founded that the association
constituted a danger to public policy. On 27 March 2008 the Western
Thrace Turkish Minority has thus won a second victory before the ECHR
after the Court, on October 2007, held in the case of Evros Prefecture
Minority Youth Association that there had been a violation of Article 11
of the Euro-pean Convention of Human Rights which protects the freedom
of assembly and association. Thence, Western Thrace Turks, whose
associations are dissolved only because they have de-nomination the word
“Turk” in its name, have reaped a great success on the way that Greece’s
approval of the existence of Turkish identity in Western Thrace. 

The ECHR, in the cases of “Xanthi Turkish Union and others v.
Greece”(no. 26698/05) and Emin and Others v. Greece (application no.
34144/05) held unanimously that Greece violated the “right to freedom of
assembly and association”. In the case of the Xanthi Turkish Union and
others v. Greece that brought before the Court by Galip Galip and other
seven applicants after that the Xanthi Turkish Union and Academic
Graduates Circle of the Minority in Western Thrace were dissolved
because the term “Turkish” are used on any document, stamp or sign, the
Court noted that the proceedings in question had lasted more than 21
years, and it considered that Greece failed to satisfy the “reasonable
time” requirement therefore there had been a viola-tion of Article 6(1)
(right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time) of the Convention.
Besides, the Court awarded the association Xanthi Turkish Union 8,000
euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage. In the second case of
Emin and Others v. Greece which was brought before the ECHR by Hulya
Emin and other six applicants after the Greek courts dismissed a request
for registration of the association of the Cultural Association of
Turkish Women of the Region of Rodopi on the ground that its title might
mislead the public regarding the origin of its members and that the
Greek Court of Appeal upheld a decision that by virtue of the Treaty of
Lausanne only a Muslim minority and not a Turkish minority had been
recognized in the region of Western Thrace, the Court held that the
finding of a violation constituted in itself just satisfaction for the
non-pecuniary damage suffered by the applicants.


The ECHR terminated the issue of identity in Western Thrace

The Court stated in its judgment “even supposing the real aim of the
association had been to promote the idea that there was an ethnic
minority in Greece, this could not be said to constitute a threat to
democratic society”. And the Court terminated the issue of identity in
Western Thrace be reiterating that the “existence of minorities and
different cultures in a country was a historical fact that a democratic
society had to tolerate and even protect and support according to the
prin-ciples of international law”. Moreover, the Court considered that
“freedom of association involved the right of everyone to express, in a
lawful context, their beliefs about their ethnic identity” and added
that “however shocking and unacceptable certain views or words used
might appear to the authorities, their dissemination should not
automatically be regarded as a threat to public policy or to the
territorial integrity of a country”. The President of the Federation of
Western Thrace Turks in Europe, Halit Habipoglu, stated the Court
decision had a significant importance for the Western Thrace Turkish
Minority that had never resorted to violence and re-mained loyal to
their country Greece all the time in history and that there had no more
room for Greece to deny the Turkish identity of the Minority. Habipoglu
said “After the Court decision to convict Greece once more for the
abolished or not even registered associations founded by per-sons
belonging to the Western Thrace Turkish Minority; Greece had to revise
and change its attitude and policies towards all the ethnic minorities
in the country”. And the President added, “The just struggle the
Minority had gone along for long years had been strengthened after the
Court decision. The Western Thrace Turkish Minority would ever proceed
on its way more strongly”. 


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