Imbros and Tenedos

The Aegean Sea, with the islands of Imbros (to the north) and Tenedos both circled. Google Maps.

A Wikipedia discovery: since 1970 the Aegean islands Imbros and Tenedos have officially been designated Gökçeada and Bozcaada. As that change might indicate, these islands, which lie just outside the entrance to the Hellespont, are in the hands of the Republic of Turkey; all of the other Aegean islands are Greek, as they were in ancient times. Imbros and Tenedos were acquired by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which recognized the Republic of Turkey and set the stage for population transfer between Greece and Turkey. These islands, though, were to be spared this fate; the predominantly Greek population was to be granted a semi-autonomous status within Turkey.

But this did not come to pass. The most recent population statistics for Imbros: 8662, of whom 318 were Greek, and for Tenedos: 2,472, of whom 22 were Greek. These numbers were achieved over the course of the twentieth century in the customary way: by outlawing the teaching of Greek and by closing Greek schools, by appropriating Greek property, and by otherwise making life difficult for Greeks so that they emigrate (for good – they’re not allowed to return), and by settling Turks in their place.

I quite liked my time in Turkey. The country seems orderly and its people civilized. But this sort of behavior, which is by no means the only example of Turkish nationalism at work, is repellant – and even worse than what the Israelis get up to on the West Bank, which is supposedly the epitome of oppression, according to certain friends of mine. Why is the plight of the Greeks, Kurds, and Armenians of Turkey not an international cause célèbre on the Palestinian level?