Exhibition depicting removal of Greeks from Turkish island cancelled for being ‘offensive’

A planned exhibition portraying the 1964 removal of Greeks from Turkey’s Imbros Island has been canceled after it was targeted on social media for allegedly being offensive to Turks, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Gerçek Gündem news website.

Greeks from Imbros Island, Gökçeada in Turkish, were relocated from Turkey to Greece in 1964 because of the political tension between the two countries. Gökçeada is Turkey’s largest island, located in the Aegean Sea where the Gulf of Saros and the Dardanelles Strait meet in Çanakkale province.

The exhibition, curated by journalist Melike Çapan and titled “We Will Reunite: The 1964 Memory of Imbros,” was planned to be held at the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Museum on the island.

After the exhibit was targeted on social media, with some users issuing threats against Çapan, Gökçeada City Council President Bülent Aylı also claimed in a press statement that the planned event “offends Turks” and “targets the spiritual identity of the state.”

“If we come across any approach in this exhibition that is against our state and nation and is offensive, we will initiate legal action. … No one can belittle our state and nation,” Aylı said.

Speaking to Gerçek Gündem, Çapan said she spoke directly to Aylı and explained the purpose of the exhibition but that Aylı perceived even the name of the event to be threatening.

“They said if exhibition is held, they will file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. They allege that I am betraying the state. … I am canceling the exhibition in order to prevent any harm to the Greek community on the island or in İstanbul,” Çapan added.

The Greek population of Imbros Island had been an integral part of the island’s cultural and historical fabric for centuries. However, in the aftermath of various conflicts and geopolitical changes, the island’s Greek inhabitants faced a period of upheaval.

In the early 20th century, following the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which established a population exchange between Greece and Turkey, many Greek residents of Imbros were relocated to Greece. In return, Turks from Greece were resettled in Turkey.

The Greek population that remained on Imbros after the population exchange continued to face challenges. Tensions between Greece and Turkey persisted, leading to further difficulties for the Greek community on the island. In 1964, a number of Greek inhabitants were forcibly removed from the island due to political and security concerns, a move that further strained relations between Greece and Turkey.

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