International Symposium "Meskhetian Turks on the 75th Anniversary of Deportation" Completed


The International Symposium on the “Meskhetian Turks on the 75th Anniversary of Deportation" dealing with the Meskhetian Turks who have been condemned to living heimatlos for 75 years was held on 16-17 November under the leadership of İstanbul Medeniyet University as the host of the event. The international event took place in Âşık Paşa Conference Hall in our South Campus and brought together many specialist scientists from Turkey and abroad. Supported by Sancaktepe Municipality, Üsküdar Municipality, and Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), the symposium focused on the current problems of the Meskhetian Turks, and also diverse topics on law, literature, education, history, theology, arts, and culture.

The first day of the International Symposium on the “Meskhetian Turks on the 75th Anniversary of Deportation" started with the screening of a documentary film titled “Garibim Gurbetlerde” on Meskhetian Turks, whose director and scriptwriter is Asst. Prof. Rüstem Mürseloğlu of our Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. Next, the first opening remarks were delivered by İsmayil Rahimov and Ramiz Atahan, presidents of two Meskhetian Turkish Societies. They were followed by Mustafa Demir, Vice President of İHH, who said: “We need such symposia so that what happened in Meskhetia will not be forgotten." Next, Mayor of Üsküdar Hilmi Türkmen spoke and said: "I find this symposium very important in that it seeks to uncover and remind the youth of those tragic pages in our history and congratulate the Rector for organizing it. What happened in Syria, Bosnia and East Turkestan are no different from this event. We cannot forget what was done to our cognates in Meskhetia even after a millennium.” The next opening speech was delivered by Sancaktepe Mayor Şeyma Dövücü, who said: “As Sancaktepe Municipality, we are so excited to be a stakeholder for this symposium. The way we will treat the subject today and the point where Turkey stands now is a lesson to the world. Today, Turkey teaches humanism to the world. "

Murat Sefa Demiryürek, District Governor of Üsküdar, said in his speech: “There are now 44 different countries in the region where the Ottoman Empire fought during the 1st World War; that is a vast area. We are related to a large part of these lands through blood, religion or legal and cultural affinity. Most importantly, we have the mission of being a hope for these people. Recently, Turkey has taken a strong stance toward fulfilling those hopes.” He was followed a short greeting speech by Feyzullah Kıyıklık, who is a Meskhetian Turk and served as the MP of Istanbul for Justice and Development Party in three different periods.

In his opening remarks, Rector and Symposium Chair Prof. Dr. Gülfettin Çelik thanked all the participants, NGO’s and municipalities for their contributions. Prof. Dr. Çelik underlined that he himself was an immigrant from Bulgaria and shares the feelings of Meskhetian Turks. He noted that this led him to write his PhD dissertation on migration during the Ottoman period from the Crimean War to Balkan Wars and emphasized that people from different communities and ethnic backgrounds co-existed in peace for long years in the Ottoman Empire, which is a unique phenomenon. He also said: "We witnessed the demise of the fifty-year Soviet dream. Turkey has now overcome most of the obstacles in the Middle East and will distinguish itself as the greatest global actor in the 21st century thanks to its vast experience and its historical legacy of unity in a single civilization. Under the leadership of Turkey, we will all witness the evidence of the fact that the world is greater than five."

The opening remarks ended with the plaque awarding ceremony for symposium contributors. A total of six different panels were held on the first day and twelve panels on the second day of the symposium. The two-day symposium was completed with the conclusion and assessment session.

Click here for the symposium final declaration.