Greece fails to respect human rights of its Turkish community

According to the European Court of Human Rights Athens is failing to respect the freedom of assembly and association of Turks living in Thrace, north-eastern Greece · The Greek authorities deny the existence of a Turkish minority.

According to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, Greece has violated two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the Turkish community living in Thrace. The Greek Government failed to respect the Turks’ rights to freedom of assembly and association when it rejected an application for registration from the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Region of Rodopi on the grounds that the association’s name referred to the Turkish origin of its members. According to a Greek court, the NGO could not be registered because only the Muslim minority is officially recognized in Greece and as such registration of the organization would pose a “threat to democratic society”.

The Greek courts also forced another organization, the Turkish Association of Xanthi, to change its name and later to disband because it described the Muslim minority of Thrace as “strongly oppressed”. In addition to these obstacles, which infringe Article 11 of the Convention, the Strasbourg Court criticized court proceedings for lasting an “excessive” amount of time, up to 21 years in some cases.

There are approximately 90,000 Turks living in Greece, according to Minority Rights Group, alongside various other minority communities, including Albanians, Vlachs, Arvanites, Macedonians, Roma and Pomaks. Only the “Muslim minority” benefits from official recognition. The only official language is Greek.

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