Monday, September 6, 2010

September 1955: The Istanbul Pogrom

The Istanbul Pogrom (also known as the Istanbul Riots or Constantinople Pogrom), was a pogrom directed primarily at Istanbul's Greek minority on 6–7 September 1955. The riots were orchestrated by the Turkish military's Tactical Mobilization Group, the seat of Operation Gladio's Turkish branch. The events were triggered by the news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki (Greece) — the house where the turkish statesman Mustafa Kemal Atatürk supposedly was born in 1881 — had been bombed the day before. A bomb planted by a Turkish usher of the consulate, who was later arrested and confessed, incited the events. The Turkish press conveying the news in Turkey was silent about the arrest and instead insinuated that Greeks had set off the bomb. A Turkish mob, most of which had been trucked into the city in advance, assaulted Istanbul’s Greek community for nine hours. Although the mob did not explicitly call for Greeks to be killed, over a dozen people died during or after the pogrom as a result of beatings and arson. Jews and Armenians were also targeted. The pogrom greatly accelerated emigration of ethnic Greeks (Turkish: Rumlar) from Turkey, and the Istanbul region in particular. The Greek population of Turkey declined from 119,822 persons in 1927, to about 7,000 in 1978. In Istanbul alone, the Greek population decreased from 65,108 to 49,081 between 1955 and 1960. The 2008 figures released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry place the current number of Turkish citizens of Greek descent at 3,000–4,000. However according to the Human Rights Watch, the Greek population in Turkey was estimated at 2,500 in 2006.
Istanbul Pogrom, Wikipedia

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