BTAYTD Attends OSCE Complementary Humanitarian Dimension Meeting

Western Thrace
Sun, 5 Jul 2020 19:28 GMT
The Western Thrace Minority Graduates Association attended the Complementary Humanitarian Dimension Meeting held online on 22-23 June 2020. In the meeting attended by BTAYTD members Pervin Hayrullah and Kerem Abdürrahimoğlu, “Freedom of Expression, Access...
BTAYTD Attends OSCE Complementary Humanitarian Dimension Meeting
The Western Thrace Minority Graduates Association attended the Complementary Humanitarian Dimension Meeting held online on 22-23 June 2020. In the meeting attended by BTAYTD members Pervin Hayrullah and Kerem Abdürrahimoğlu, “Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Media Freedom” were discussed.
 
Speaking at the first session of the meeting on freedom of expression, Pervin Hayrullah expressed freedom of expression in Greece stating that civil / political rights and freedom of information are protected in Article 14 of the Constitution, as well as local regulations, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Hayrullah continued: “However, discriminatory policies implemented in Greece for years, especially for the Turkish Minority, whose rights have been secured by international treaties, have led to serious human rights violations, including freedom of expression. Ignoring the ethnic identity of the Turkish Minority, prohibiting Turkish Minority Associations, restrictions in all areas of minority's life have brought social exclusion and marginalization. Insisting on ignoring the existence of the Turkish Minority does not mean that the Turkish Minority does not actually exist in Western Thrace. The Turkish Minority makes up almost half of the population in the region. However, during the Western Thrace visits, the President of Greece, Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Mitsotakis, did not take into account the representatives of the Turkish Minority, and did not even respond to the meeting requests of the Western Thrace Minority High School Association and Xanthi Muzaffer Salihoglou Minority High School. A similar attitude towards minority associations has been going on for years”.

Speaking again at the second session of the meeting on access to information, Pervin Hayrullah emphasized that access to information is important for people to participate in the process of determining priorities and decision making, ensuring equal treatment and equal social justice. She noted that the importance of the issue was felt much deeper during the pandemic, especially for minorities, immigrants and vulnerable groups. She stated that official information was only published in the official language, only in Greek for the Western Thrace Turkish Minority. However, due to the discriminatory and exclusive educational policies implemented by Greek governments in Western Thrace for years, about 1/3 of the Turkish Minority population could not learn the official language, considering the age of people, many of them could not understand what does COVID-19 mean and how to take measures to protect themselves from the effects. She stated that many of the Turkish minority people comply with the restrictions because of the fear of the police without understanding what is going on in the world and recommended that the minorities, refugees and vulnerable groups be taken into account in accessing information to the OSCE Participating States, especially Greece.

Melek Kırmacı Arık attended the meeting on behalf of ABTTF. Speaking at the first session, where the relationship of freedom of expression with other fundamental rights was evaluated, Arık said that the Western Thrace Turkish society was turned into a scapegoat by the government and the media during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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