Minority Rights Group International [MRG] has issued a report on minorities in Turkey stating that “[m]illions of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities remain unrecognized by the Turkish state, face discrimination and are now increasingly under threat as a result of a growing wave of violent nationalism.”


The only protection for minorities in Turkey has been set out in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne but in practice its scope is limited only to Armenians, Jews and Rum (Greek orthodox) Christians.

But Turkey is home to a vast number of minorities including ethnic Kurds, Caucasians, Laz and Roma. The country’s other religious minorities include Alevis, Assyrians, Caferis and Reformist Christians.


Minorities have also increasingly becoming victims of a rising trend of nationalism in the country. In January 2007, journalist and Armenian human rights activist Hrant Dink was shot dead in Istanbul. The suspect told police that Dink was Armenian and had “insulted Turkishness”.

The report says that the EU accession process and the proposed new constitution in 2008 give plenty of opportunity for Turkey to make legal changes to protect minorities.

“We recommend speedy legal reforms – this is crucial, but to bring real change to Turkey’s minorities there has to be radical transformation of the prevalent mentality towards minorities of both the state and society,” [MRG’s Head of Policy and Communications] Matheson says.