Late politician Dr. Sadik Ahmet, who fought for democratic fights of the Western Thrace Turkish minority in Greece for years, is commemorated on his 75th birth anniversary.
Ahmet was born on Jan. 7, 1947, in Gumulcine (Komotini) of Western Thrace and served there for years both as a doctor and community leader.
Once his medical training in Ankara and Thessaloniki was over, he completed his mandatory military service as a Greek citizen, which lasted for about three years.
Ahmet started to serve as a medical doctor in 1978, then stepped into action to draw attention to the political pressure on the Turkish minority of Western Thrace at a time when Turkish-Greek relations were strained due to the Cyprus issue.
In 1985, he launched a petition to make the Turkish minority to be heard by the international community, but he was sentenced to prison.
Ahmet was closely monitoring many problems faced by the Turkish minority in the Western Thrace region of Greece.
The Greek government did not recognize the Turkish identity of the minority and instead used the term "Muslim minority" to define them, and further stripped the citizenship of tens of thousands of people under the pretext of Article 19 of the constitution. He was then elected the first independent lawmaker in 1989 with votes of Turks of the Western Thrace, but his lawmaker status was annulled within a few months.
Ahmet served two months in prison for referring to the minority as "Turkish" during his speeches in 1990, while he was elected a lawmaker for the second time the same year. In 1991, he founded the Friendship, Equality and Peace Party -- the first and to date the only political party of Greece’s Turkish minority.
Greece then changed the electoral system and introduced a %3 threshold, which stipulated that an independent candidate had to receive 3% of the total votes across the country, not just in the region.
Given Greece has a population of some 11 million, it was no longer possible for the Turks in the Western Thrace to have another independent lawmaker apart from Sadik Ahmet as they have a population of 150,000.
On July 24, 1995, the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne -- the agreement which guarantees the rights of the Turkish minority in Greece -- Ahmet was killed in a suspicious car crash at the age of 48.
Starting in the early 1990s, the persecution of the Turks of Western Thrace has gradually softened, and there have been significant advances towards restoring their rights as citizens.
However, Greece still denies the ethnic Turkish identity of the minority in Western Thrace, and bans all associations that include the word "Turkish" in their name./aa