World Refugee Day (June 20)
On World Refugee Day, Blinken OSA evokes two cases from the not so distant past, in which members of ethnic minorities, a Turk from Kardzhali, Bulgaria (1989) and a Bosniak from Zvornik, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992), had to forcibly flee their homes. Their stories are recorded and preserved in the records of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.
“He was expelled against his will”
“He was arrested for his resistance to the name changing campaign which took place in Nenkovo (Kardzhali) on 12.12.84. On 7.1.85 he was arrested, for 20 months in Belene, then for 26 months in internal exile in Mihailovgrad without his family (remaining in Nenkovo.) In Nov. 1988 he returned to Nenkovo, but had to report three times a week to the police.
In Belene, he approached the prison officials to protest against the human rights violations towards the Turkish minority. As a result, he was threatened to death and stopped the protest actions. During his imprisonment in Belene, he was “offered” a Bulgarian name three times but refused.
Since May 10, Kardzhali was under militia surveillance (troops and tanks) with curfew during the night. Furthermore, people were not allowed to leave their villages. The reason for this measure were demonstrations and hunger strikes of the Turkish minority claiming the restoration of their rights.
[…] He stressed that he was expelled against his will. He got a passport without giving his signature on 2.6.89. The passport was issued on 30.5.89. The family (two children) left Bulgaria on 3.6.89, arrived in Austria on 4.6.89 via Yugoslavia.”
“Who does not leave, will be killed”
“[…] I had to leave my house, my country because “they” terrorized us, they murdered and slaughtered, set our houses on fire. Two neighbors were murdered (very disturbed) —it was June 12— one woman was shot by two bullets, a man was killed with a knife, his throat was cut. Then “they” told us, “You have to get out of your houses. Who does not leave, will be killed.” […] I fled with my wife and grandchild across the Drina, this is roughly 300 m away from my house. I left my family with the sister of my wife in Serbia. Women and old people have no problems, but men between 15 and 55 cannot leave Bosnia. I went by bus through Šabac to Subotica, whoever had no passport, got immediately a passport in Serbia, a red passport. Then I continued with other refugees through Hungary and arrived in Vienna on June 16. I am ready to sign this statement.”
(Note: The passports of the old Yugoslavia were red. The people referred to as “they” are different Serbian irregulars.)