January 9, 2013

Teacher in Istanbul Threatened for Calling Himself a "Romios"

Nikos Chiladakis reports in Agioritikovima on January 9 about a story from the Turkish newspaper, Radikal, from January 3. The case concerns Ahmet Sartas, a teacher in an elementary school in the district of Pentik, in the Asian part of Istanbul. Sartas, as stated in the indictment that was assigned by the Directorate of Education of Istanbul, in the beginning of the school year 2011-2012, during the annual gathering of teachers, said he is Greek (Romios or Romeikos), he knows Greek (Romaika), and that despite the great crisis in Greece there's more freedom for teachers and professors there, and there is oppression practiced in Turkish schools. He expressed the same thing throughout the year. He argued that he had to hide his identity as a Romios in order to teach because it is illegal in Turkey to deny one's Turkish identity.

These statements were made known to the Department of Education in the district of Istanbul, and provoked a strong reaction resulting in a written notice to withdraw his statements and public attitude that he is a Greek (Romios) because he would suffer penalties for challenging his official Turkish identity.

Ahmet Sartas is originally from Pontus and a debate has now begun as to whether one's identity as a Romios from that region is still valid after so many decades following the population exchange in the 1920's.