'Our struggle for justice will continue until justice is realised'

Western Thrace
Sat, 23 Dec 2023 13:33 GMT
İTB President Ozan Ahmetoğlu: "Greece has the responsibility to implement the ECtHR judgements, but these judgements have not been implemented for 15 years. For 40 years, the struggle for rights has been going on"
'Our struggle for justice will continue until justice is realised'

In an interview with AA correspondent, Ozan Ahmetoğlu, President of Xanthi Turkish Union (ITB), made statements regarding Greece's policy of denying the identity of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace and the legal struggle they have been waging against this for 40 years.

Ahmetoğlu stated that ITB, which is the most established organisation of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, continued its activities officially as an association from 1927 when it was founded until 1983, but as a result of Greece's policy of denying the national identity of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace with the process that started in 1983, ITB was ordered to be closed down by the courts and they have been continuing their struggle for their rights for 40 years.

Stating that the Greek state had the signboard of İTB removed by the police on 7 December 1983 on the grounds that "there are no Turks in Western Thrace", Ahmetoğlu explained that the Komotini Turkish Youth Union and the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers' Union were treated similarly.

"40 YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE STRUGGLE FOR RIGHTS"
Ahmetoğlu reminded that after the signboards were taken down, a closure case was filed against ITB by the Governorship of Xanthi and they started a struggle for rights and law and said, "We are now in 2023. Exactly 40 years have passed since this struggle for rights."

Ahmetoğlu stated that İTB has been engaged in a 22-year legal struggle in the Greek domestic law and noted that in 2005, the Court of Cassation approved the decision to close İTB.

Ahmetoğlu emphasised that İTB had thus lost its legal personality and that this was a great injustice and injustice.

Ahmetoğlu stated that following the closure decision, marginalisation and targeting policies started against the Xanthi Turkish Union and its executives and other Turkish minority associations through the press and politics and that such practices are still continuing.

"THE EU CONDEMNS GREECE FOR THIS DECISION"
Ahmetoğlu explained that they took the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) after the decision of the Supreme Court and said, "In March 2008, the ECtHR announced its decision on ITB. The ECHR stated that the decision to close down our association was wrong and condemned Greece for this decision. Immediately after this, as İTB, we applied to the Greek domestic law for the return of the legal status and legal personality of our association."

Ahmetoğlu said that they were once again rejected by the Greek courts and noted that Greece has not implemented the ECtHR judgements for 15 years.

Ahmetoğlu reminded that the Supreme Court recently took a negative decision regarding the return of the official and legal status of the association in 2021 and stated that they organised a protest march in Xanthi against this.

Stating that they are continuing the necessary contacts on the subject, Ahmetoğlu said, "If there are international law, human rights values and Greece is a modern and democratic state of law, it has to comply with these judgements. Greece has the responsibility to implement the ECtHR judgements, but these judgements have not been implemented for 15 years. For 40 years, the struggle for rights has been going on."

Ahmetoğlu stated that they prepared a documentary on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the struggle for the right to seek rights, and noted that their goal was to immortalise their struggle in a sense and pass it on to future generations.

"WE WILL CONTINUE THIS STRUGGLE FOR RIGHTS UNTIL WE WIN"
Ahmetoğlu concluded his words as follows: "We prepared this documentary in order to condemn the policies that deny the identity of the Turkish minority of Western Thrace and to emphasise once again that these policies are wrong. Afterwards, we will upload this documentary to our social media accounts. We will continue this struggle for rights until we win."

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