How Gökçeada Became Turkish

Posted by dianamuir on August 31, 2012

Gökçeada, a small island  at the mouth of the Dardanelles where Turkish firefighters are struggling to put out a forest fire today, was not always Turkish.   Under the  Ottoman Empire it was an ethnically Greek island called Imbros, supporting itself by farming and fishing.

The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, recognized the awkward status of Imbros and neighboring  Tenedos.   Because they were populated by Greeks, they ought  to have been made part of Greece,  but because of their strategic position at the mouth of the Dardanelles, Turkey retained them after guaranteeing that the  almost entirely Greek population could govern itself autonomously in local affairs.

In 1960  military government that took power in Turkey.  It abrogated Turkey’s obligations under the Treaty of Lausanne.  The schools on both Imbros and Tenedos, taught in Greek under treaty guarantees, were   closed in 1964.  In 1965 the first mosque with the highly charged name Fatih Camisi (the Conqueror’s Mosque) was built on land confiscated from the Greek Orthodox vakif (waqf).   Fishing was banned on the pretext of creating an underwater marine reserve.   Almost all arable land was expropriated to build  a large military base and to build an “open prison”, the inmates of which would support themselves by living on and working the expropriated Greek land.   The inmates preyed on the Greek community of farmers and fishermen, who, with no schools, the criminal threat, nowhere to fish and no land, left.[1]
Ethnic cleansing by other means.

Turkish settlers were moved onto the  islands and they were eventually  given new, Turkish names.  It was all done in flagrant violation of Turkey’s obligations under the Treaty of Lausanne, but, really, who cares?  Who even remembers?

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