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Public Papers - 1989 - June

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Persecution of the Turkish Minority in Bulgaria

1989-06-26

In the last month, over 60,000 people have either fled or been forcibly expelled from Bulgaria to Turkey -- many with nothing more than the clothes on their backs -- and more are arriving in Turkey every day.

This mass migration is the result of the Bulgarian Government's systematic denial of basic human rights to its Turkish minority. Since 1984 the Bulgarian authorities have been carrying out a campaign of forced assimilation of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish minority, forcing its members to slavicize their names and denying them the right to speak their language and practice their religion. Members of the minority who have objected have been imprisoned without trial and treated with great brutality.

Over the past month, this campaign against ethnic Turks has taken on a new dimension, as Bulgarian forces have fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing some and wounding others. There are reports that the violence continues. We deplore Bulgaria's blatant violations of the human rights of its citizens, rights which Bulgaria has committed itself to protect as a signatory of the Helsinki accords and other international agreements. We urge the Government of Bulgaria to cease these violations and to allow for the orderly emigration of those ethnic Turks who desire to leave.

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