Information on violence against ethnic Turks in districts bordering Greece and Turkey as well as the treatment of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria in general [BGR16516.E]

In 1993, reports indicated ethnic tensions in the region bordering Greece and Turkey, mainly in Pirin Macedonia (formerly Blagoevgrad). For instance, in September 1993 the Bulgarian parliament annulled the results of the December 1992 census in the towns of Yakoruda and Gotse Delchev, both in Pirin Macedonia (BTA 28 Sept. 1993; RFE/RL 5 Feb. 1993, 60; Department of State Dispatch 31 Jan. 1994, 2, 14). The move came after a government investigation substantiated allegations that ethnic Turks had pressured ethnic Bulgarian Muslims and ethnic Macedonians to declare themselves as ethnic Turks during the census (Department of State Dispatch 31 Jan. 1994, 14; BTA 28 Sept. 1993; RFE/RL 5 Feb. 1993, 60; RFE/RL 19 Mar. 1993, 35).

In 1993, Bulgarian media reports and representatives of the BSP, the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) alleged that non-Turkish Muslims and Macedonians were being subjected to "Turkification" in some regions (Department of State Dispatch 31 Jan. 1994, 14; BTA 9 Apr. 1993; BBC Summary 5 Apr. 1993). According to one report, "independent observers found community and peer pressure but no evidence of forcible Turkification" (Department of State Dispatch 31 Jan. 1994, 14). In March 1993, the Prosecutor General of Bulgaria was preparing to investigate allegations of Turkification in the district of Pirin Macedonia (Blagoevgrad) amidst a campaign of civil disobediance announced by local branches of political parties and unions, and calls for the mayors of Statovcha and Vulkosel, both of whom members of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), to resign (BBC Summary 5 Apr. 1993). Around the same time there were Bulgarian press reports that DPS members were pressuring ethnic Bulgarian Muslims to declare themselves as ethnic Turks and that Muslim clerics were refusing to bury Muslims with Bulgarian names (BTA 9 Apr. 1993). With respect to the latter, one source indicates that there are "credible reports" that this occurred in 1993 (Department of State Dispatch 31 Jan. 1994, 14). In September 1993 IMRO representatives warned that radical Islamic groups were active in southwestern Bulgaria, a region that includes Pirin Macedonia, and two Bulgarian press reports stated that the "Rodolyubie Union" was creating an armed self-defence group in response (BTA 28 Sept. 1993).

November 1993 Bulgarian media reports indicated that tensions between Bulgarians and Turks were increasing in the Rhodope mountains of southern Bulgaria, where the two groups were "in a state of increased combat readiness and are even rearming" (Kontinent 16 Nov. 1993). Later in the month, the chairman of parliament's National Security Commission raised concerns that "foreign emissaries" were increasing tensions in "the areas of our country where...ethnic relations are most controversial" (Trud 24 Nov. 1993).

Since November 1992, the Turkish community in Bulgaria has been split politically. In that month, a former member of the DPS, Adem Kenan, founded the Turkish Democratic Party (TDP) (BTA 12 Jan. 1993). By November 1993, when the TDP held its first central committee meeting, the party had not been legalized (Duma 1 Dec. 1993; BTA 24 Feb. 1993). The DPS has been critical of TDP policies, which it sees as being too nationalistic. For instance, in February 1993 a DPS spokesman suggested that if the TDP was registered, "it could contribute to the explosive situation in the Balkans" (Kontinent 16 Nov. 1993; BTA 14 Feb. 1993; Duma 17 Feb. 1993).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 5 April 1993. "Prosecutor General Investigates Pressure on Muslims to Declare Themselves Turks." (NEXIS)

BTA [Sofia, in English]. 28 September 1993. "Papers Warn of Ethnic Tensions in South." (FBIS-EEU-93-187 29 Sept. 1993, p. 5)

. 9 April 1993. "Berov Speaks on Problems of Ethnic Muslims." (FBIS-EEU-93-068 12 Apr. 1993, p. 3)

. 14 February 1993. "DPS Spokesman Warns of Islamic 'Expansion'." (FBIS-EEU-93-035 24 Feb. 1993, p. 3)

. 12 January 1993. "Ethnic Turkish Parties Reportedly Proliferate." (FBIS-EEU-93-008 13 Jan. 1993, pp. 18-19)

Department of State Dispatch [Washington]. 31 January 1994. "Bulgaria Human Rights Practices, 1993." (NEXIS)

Duma [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 1 December 1993. "Ethnic Turkish Leader Requests Asylum in U.S." (FBIS-EEU-93-232 6 Dec. 1993, p. 8-9)

. 17 February 1993. "Kenan's Turkish Democratic Party Criticized." (FBIS-EEU-93-033 6 Feb. 1993, p. 9)

Kontinent [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 16 November 1993. "Daily Warns of Escalating Ethnic Conflict." (FBIS-EEU-93-222 19 Nov. 1993, p. 7)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 19 March 1993. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 2, No. 12. Ivan Ilchev and Duncan M. Perry. "Bulgarian Ethnic Groups: Politics and Perceptions."

. 5 February 1993. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 2, No. 6. Radia Nikolaev. "Bulgaria's 1992 Census: Results, Problems, and Implications."

Trud [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 24 November 1993. "Slatinski Criticizes Turks' Minority Claims." (FBIS-EEU-93-236 10 Dec. 1993, pp. 7-9)