MINELRES: ABTTF News: Our demand of bilingual pre-schools is declared at UN Human Rights Council

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Mon Sep 22 10:41:42 2008

Original sender: ABTTF <news@abttf.org>


Press Release 
Our demand of bilingual pre-schools is declared at UN Human Rights
On 8 September 2008, Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe
(ABTTF) submitted a written statement to the 9th session of the Human
Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Under the agenda item of follow
up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and programme of action,
ABTTF, in its “Right to Education in Native Language: Bilingual
Education at Kindergartens“ brought up the demand of the Turkish
minority of Western Thrace for the establishment of bilingual
kindergartens in Greece. While ABTTF does acknowledge the vital
importance of the pre-school education for the next generations of the
minority child, it is determined to establish bilingual minority
kindergartens in regions where the Turkish minority is densely populated
rather than the state kindergartens, in which the education language is

ABTTF: Bilingual kindergartens are the legal and legitimate right of our

The Law 3518/2006 decided to extend compulsory period in education from
nine to ten years starting from the school year 2007-2008, and the
condition of pupils’ admission in pre-school education was revised and
the attendance of those pupils who have completed their 5th age is now
obligatory. Since the Law does not bring any regulation about ethnic and
cultural differences of the children in Greece, the minority children in
Western Thrace at the age of five is compelled to attend the majority
kindergartens. However, it is stated in the written statement that the
Western Thrace Turkish Minority is granted with the right to education
in its native language and autonomy in the management of its educational
institutions under the Treaty of Lausanne which was signed between
Greece and Turkey in 1923 determining the status and the basic rights of
the Minority in general, the Cultural Protocol signed between Turkey and
Greece on 20 April 1951 and the Exchange of Notes in 1952 regarding the
issue of exchange teachers who would be assigned in Minority Schools,
the Protocol of the Turkish-Greek Cultural Commission, signed in 1968 as
well as the Bilateral Agreement on Cultural Cooperation in 2000 based on
the context of strengthening the political relations between Greece and
Turkey on an educational level. The educational cooperation between the
two countries is based on an international model of the Council of
Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) and UNESCO,
which replaced the 1951 Cultural Protocol. 

ABTTF uttered that the practices of the Greek state in the field of
minority education are against the Hague Recommendations Regarding the
Educational Rights of National Minorities in 1996. Besides it has been
reminded that the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which
Greece is a part, do protect the rights of the minority, and that
Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1998 concluded that “the general
principles of non-discrimination (art. 2), the best interests of the
child (art. 3) and respect for the views of the child (art. 12), are not
being fully integrated into the legislative policies and programmes
relevant to children, in particular in relation to children from
vulnerable categories such as those belonging to national and ethnic
minorities“. Moreover, UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in
Education prohibits discrimination based on several grounds, including
language. According to Article 1(2) of the Convention, education refers
to all types and levels, including access to education.

ABTTF, asserted in its written statement that the minority education
system in Greece should be reconstructed according to the principles of
multiculturalism and multilingualism and encouraged the Greek government
to provide Muslim Turkish students with sufficient opportunities to
learn both the official language of the state and their mother tongue.
The most important thing is that ABTTF urged the Greek government to
take the necessary steps to guarantee the right to education of the
ethnic minorities in the country in order that the minority children
have the right to bilingual pre-school education. 

The full text of the written statement can be retrieved here:

Habipoglu: Education is the most important problem of our minority

Expressing his views, Halit Habipoglu, the President of the Federation
of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) said: “ The problem of
bilingual minority kindergartens is the most recent problem of our
minority in the field of education, but it is not the only one. The
minority education in our Western Thrace region is in critical
situation. The minority schools are inadequate in number. Besides the
quality in minority education is very low and the number of teachers in
minority schools has been diminished.. The latest example to the
situation in the field of minority education is that 24 minority
children whose late registration to the 1st Minority School is approved
by the principal of the school was not approved by the Supervisor of the
minority schools. This is the situation in the field of minority
schools, and therefore the priority of ABTTF is the problem of minority
education in Western Thrace. That is why we aimed to bring up in the 9th
session of the Human Rights Council the problem of bilingual minority
kindergartens within the framework of the right to education in native
language. ABTTF aims to attract the interest of international society to
the Western Thrace Turkish Minority and to give voice to the problems of
the Western Thrace Turkish Minority at the international platform. The
written statement we submitted to the Human Rights Council will get more
voice in the next days. The visit by the UN independent expert on
minority issues Gay McDougall to Western Thrace and the talks she made
with the minority representatives yielded the results ABTTF desired. The
role played by ABTTF in the UN mechanisms and the consequent visit by
the UN independent expert on minority issues to Western Thrace makes us
more and tenacious in our democratic struggle for the rights of our



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