The Turkish minority in Greece's Western Thrace region on Tuesday marked the anniversary of a huge rally against the government's oppression and denial of the Turkish identity.
On Jan. 29, 1988, thousands of members of the Turkish minority rallied in the city of Komotini to protest the oppression and denial of their identity by Greece.
Speaking at an event to remember that resistance day, Turkish Minority of Western Thrace Advisory Board (BTTADK) Chairman İbrahi
m Şerif said the rally in 1988 was "a peaceful resistance movement" against increasing oppression.
In a statement, elected Mufti of Xanthi Ahmet Mete said on Jan. 29, 1988, the Turkish minority protested the oppression and denial of Turkish identity by the Greek state.
In 1988, the Greek judiciary shut down several associations in Western Thrace that had the word "Turkish" in their names, saying, "There are no Turks in Greece." The Jan. 29 march protested this decision.
However, this was the final straw, as the Turkish minority lived through years of oppression, which were tightened after Turkey's intervention in Cyprus in 1974. In those years, Turks in Western Thrace had significant difficulties obtaining driving licenses and repairing or building new houses, which were only two examples of the oppression.
On the second anniversary of the rally in 1990, far-right Greeks, in a spirit of revenge, attacked more than 500 shops belonging to Turks in Komotini and Xanthi and injured many people.
The event is described as a "mini-pogrom" by some academics.
Today, associations having the word "Turkish" in their names are still banned in Western Thrace, although the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Greece on the issue in 2008.
Greece is home to a small Turkish community concentrated in Western Thrace where Xanthi and Komotini are located. Ankara and the community have long complained of mistreatment of Turks by authorities, especially in terms of religious freedoms. In recent years, the Islamic heritage in Greece, including mosques, were vandalized by far-right groups or caught fire for unknown reasons.