Murder of 86-year-old Greek Christian Man Sparks Fear and Shines Spotlight on Turkey’s Ongoing Ethnic Cleansing

An 86-year-old ethnic-Greek citizen of Turkey, Zafiris Pinaris, was found murdered in his home on the island of Imbros with his hands and feet tied on May 14. He was reportedly tortured. The local press covering the incident are labeling it a hate crime and Turkish authorities have opened an investigation into the matter.

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The opposition MP, Tuma Çelik, has submitted a parliamentary motion regarding Pinaris to be answered by the Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül. The motion said that “Since the past, Greek, Assyrian and Armenian houses have been targeted and ‘treasures’ have been hunted for in those places on the pretext that the minorities are ‘wealthy.’”

“Pinaris was an artisan, very healthy despite his age and a member of the Greek society who lived in the island for a long time. It has been stated in the news that three people were detained on the ground of their involvement in the attack and that those who entered the house of Pinaris to steal his money battered and killed him,” the motion reads.

“Pinaris was first taken to the Gökçeada State Hospital and then to Bursa Forensic Medicine Institute for autopsy. However, since last week, there has been no statement made by the local authorities regarding the incident,” the motion continued, adding that, “the murder of Zafiris Pinaris has led to the recurrence of the previous traumas as well as uneasiness among the island residents.”

Imbros is historically a Christian island that was primarily inhabited by Greeks from antiquity until the 1960s. When Constantinople (today Istanbul) was invaded by Ottoman Turks in 1453, Imbros also fell to the Ottoman Empire and then passed on to its successor, Turkey.

According to the 1960 population census, around 5,500 ethnic Greeks lived in the island of Imbros. Today, the Greek population there is around 300. This decline of population is the result of a carefully planned campaign of ethnic cleansing that lasted for decades.

The 1923 Lausanne Treaty, which recognized the borders and independence of Turkey, established a special status – including the right to a Greek local administration – for the then Greek-populated Aegean islands, Imbros and Tenedos (Bozcaada). The Greek residents were supposed to be protected by the Turkish government, according to the treaty.

However, those provisions of the treaty were never honored by Turkey.

“The Turkish government promptly took over the administration of the islands, including the judiciary, the police, and the port authorities and customs officers. It also chose the members of the administrative council. Turkey confiscated the lands of those who had left the islands and did not permit the owners to return. The use of the Greek language for official communications was abolished,” according to a 1992 report by Helsinki Watch.

And in the 1960s, an ethnic cleansing campaign was accelerated by the Turkish government.

The fact that the ethnic cleansing was state-planned came to light in 2014 when the human rights lawyer, Erhan Pekçe, found in a second-hand bookshop in Izmir a report marked “Top Secret” about the practices implemented by the government to Turkify Imbros.

The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) then held a press conference in Istanbul on September 6, 2014, the anniversary of the September 1955 anti-Greek pogroms, when activists shared the findings of the report with the public and distributed its copies to journalists in attendance.

Ayşe Günaysu, a prominent human rights activist based in Istanbul, was among the team that led the efforts of bringing awareness to the ethnic cleansing in Imbros. “According to this top-secret report, Turkey’s National Security Council (NCS) took a decision in 1964 about Imbros’ Turkification,” she told The Daily Caller. “The aim of the NCS was ‘to prepare all the necessary economic, social and spiritual conditions for the Turkification of the island, enabling the [Turkish] immigrants to permanently settle on the island and for a full eradication of the Greek aspirations.’”

“The names of the Greek inhabitants of the island were also listed one-by-one in the report with information about their respective professions and alleged political tendencies,” Günaysu added. “The report also refers to Greek schools and other Greek institutions as ‘hotbeds of conspiracy.’”

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SOURCE: Greek City Times, Uzay Bulut

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