Turkish Jews Renounce National Minority Rights; Reject Claim to Protection Under Treaty Terms
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Turkish Jews Renounce National Minority Rights; Reject Claim to Protection Under Treaty Terms

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

The Jews of Turkey renounced their claim to the national minority rights, guaranteed them together with the other minorities in Turkey, under the Peace Treaty of Lausanne, at a meeting of Turkish-Jewish notables held here yesterday.

This decision of Turkish-Jewish leaders, representing the first group in Europe and Asia to renounce the national minority rights recognized as an “obligation of international concern,” and placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations, was taken at a meeting of seventy members of what is termed the Jewish National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey.

The Assembly met under the presidency of Jacque Bey Nahmias, and heard the report submitted by the Commission on the Reorganization of the Jewish communities in Turkey, appointed for that purpose some time ago. After submitting a detailed report of the negotiations conducted with the Turkish Government, the Commission proposed to the Assembly the adoption of the following resolutions:


1. To proclaim solemnly the complete renunciation by Turkish Jewry of all national minority rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Lausanne; 2. To request the Turkish Government to issue such ordinances as would regulate the administration of the affairs of the Jewish community and the maintenance of its scholastic, charitable and educational institutions, as well as to indicate the means of assuring the existence of these institutions by lending them moral and material support; 3. To submit to the Turkish Government a draft of a bill to establish the legal status of the community and to maintain the existing contribution toward Jewish institutions.

The Assembly adopted unanimously the report and the resolutions submitted by the Commission and elected a committee of five to present these resolutions to the Turkish Government.

All seventy notables who were present signed the Act renouncing the claim of Turkish Jewry to the national minority rights.

This act of the Jewish National Assembly made a tremendous impression in Jewish circles here. It was pointed out that since the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, the intention was expressed in various quarters to renounce the rights of Turkish Jewry as a minority. The view was frequently expressed that inasmuch as Turkey is now a free Republic, guaranteeing equal terms of citizenship to all, the existence of special national minority rights is of no purpose. The opinion was also expressed that this Act of the seventy Turkish-Jewish notables is in line with the tradition of the loyalty of Turkish Jews to established authority.


Section III of the Treaty of Lausanne, signed on July 24, 1923, dealing with the protection of minorities, says:

“Article 37: Turkey undertakes that the stipulations contained in Articles 38 to 44 shall be recognized as fundamental laws, and that no law, no regulation, nor official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation, nor official action prevail over them.

“Article 38: The Turkish Government undertakes to assure full and complete protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Turkey without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion.

“All inhabitants of Turkey shall be entitled to free exercise, whether in public or private, of any creed, religion or belief, the observance of which shall not be incompatible with public order and good morals.

“Non-Moslem minorities will enjoy full freedom of movement and of emigration, subject to the measures applied, on the whole or on part of the territory to all Turkish nationals, and which may be taken by the Turkish Government for national defence, or for the maintenance of public order.

“Article 39: Turkish nationals belonging to non-Moslem minorities will enjoy the same civil and political rights as Moslems.

“All the inhabitants of Turkey, without distinction of religion, shall be equal before the law.

“Differences of religion, creed or confession shall not prejudice any Turkish national in matters relating to the enjoyment of civil or political rights, as, for instance, admission to public employments, functions and honors, or the exercise of professions and industries.

“No restrictions shall be imposed on the free use by any Turkish national of any language in private intercourse, in commerce, religion, in the press, or in publications of any kind or at public meetings.

“Notwithstanding the existence of the official language, adequate facilities shall be given to Turkish nationals of non-Turkish speech for the oral use of their own language before the Courts.

“Article 40: Turkish nationals belonging to non-Moslem minorities shall enjoy the same treatment and security in law and in fact as other Turkish nationals. In particular, they shall have an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools and other establishments for instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and exercise their own religion freely therein.

“Article 41: As regards public instruction, the Turkish Government will grant in those towns and districts, where a considerable proportion of non-Moslem nationals are resident, adequate facilities for ensuring that in the primary schools the instruction shall be given to the children of such Turkish nationals through the medium of their own language. This provision will not prevent the Turkish Government from making the teaching of the Turkish language obligatory in the said schools.

“In towns and districts where there is a considerable proportion of Turkish nationals belonging to non-Moslem minorities, these minorities shall be assured an equitable share in the enjoyment and application of the sums which may be provided out of public funds under the State, municipal or other budgets for educational, religious, or charitable purposes.

“The sums in question shall be paid to the qualified representatives of the establishments and institutions concerned.

“Article 42: The Turkish Government undertakes to take, as regards non-Moslem minorities, in so far as concerns their family law or personal status, measures permitting the settlement of these questions in accordance with the customs of those minorities.

“These measures will be elaborated by special Commissions composed of representatives of the Turkish Government and of representatives of each of the minorities concerned in equal number. In case of divergence, the Turkish Government and the Council of the League of Nations will appoint in agreement an umpire chosen from amongst European lawyers.

“The Turkish Government undertakes to grant full protection to the churches, synagogues, cemeteries, and and peace. other religious establishments of the above mentioned minorities. All facilities and authorization will be granted to the pious foundations, and to the religious and charitable institutions of the said minorities at present existing in Turkey, and the Turkish Government will not refuse, for the formation of new religious and charitable institutions, any of the necessary facilities which are guaranteed to other private institutions of that nature.

“Article 43: Turkish nationals belonging to non-Moslem minorities shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their faith or religious observances, and shall not be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend Courts of Law or to perform any legal business on their weekly day of rest.

“This provision, however, shall not exempt such Turkish nationals from such obligations as shall be imposed upon all other Turkish nationals for the preservation of public order.

“Article 44: Turkey agrees that, in so far as the preceding Articles of this Section affect non-Moslem nationals of Turkey, these provisions constitute obligations of international concern and shall be placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations. They shall not be modified without the assent of the majority of the Council of the League of Nations. The British Empire, France, Italy and Japan hereby agree not to withhold their assent to any modification in these Articles which is in due from assented to by a majority of the Council of the League of Nations.”

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