Bulgaria Exodus 1989

Bulgaria Exodus 1989


In the winter of 1984-85 Bulgaria's large Turkish community was forced to change their Islamic names, a ban on speaking Turkish in public was introduced, mosques were closed or destroyed, the wearing of traditional Turkish clothes was forbidden.

Oppression backfired: Bulgaria's Muslims moved to the forefront of the struggle for democracy. In the spring of 1989 they went on hunger strikes, their movement spread. Special forces moved into compact ethnic Turkish areas, shots were fired at unarmed civilians, several people were killed.

A few days later the Communist leader Todor Zhivkov announced that the "Islamised Bulgarians" can go to Turkey. More than 300.000 left within weeks, causing Europe's largest single exodus after the end of WWII.

Dr. Georgi Simidchiev was a young scientist in the capital Sofia. In the summer of 1989 he was caught up in bigger events, away from his desk.


Inanc Ozekmekci

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 19:21
Hi from the other side of the border. I was 8 when immigrant groups with their Lada automobiles arrived to Bursa, historically one of the immigrant centers of Turkey. I remembered those days and their impact on daily social life of the city and we all should remember old bad events, no matter it directed against which ethnic group whereever in the region, in Turkey, in Bulgaria, in Macedonia, in Albania, in Greece,in Bosnia. Thanks for sharing, I wish a peaceful future to all Balkan and Middleeastern people.

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