Turkish Interior Ministry confirms ‘race codes’ for minorities

Turkey’s Interior Ministry has confirmed that minorities in the country are given codes depending on which community they belong to and that such information is sent to the Education Ministry, less than a week after the categorization system was revealed by weekly Agos.

“Minority citizens’ race status is given to the Education Ministry depending on the nationality or race information taken from the state register of the Ottoman period,” the ministry said in a statement that was sent to the Armenian-Turkish weekly on Aug. 1. The statement also said contemporary state registers did not record any information about the race or sect of citizens, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

“There are no terms of race, breed, or sect in the state registers,” said the statement sent to Agos.

Minority citizens’ race status is taken from their nationality or race information during Ottoman times and sent to the Education Ministry, according to the 40th and 41st articles of the Lausanne Treaty, which was signed between Turkey and Western countries in 1923 and presaged the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

In Turkey, only minority communities’ members can register their children at minority schools, according to the Lausanne Treaty, said the statement.

“Depending on the citizens’ demands, religions such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism or Zoroastrianism can be recorded in the state family register, according to the 2nd and 35th articles of Law No. 5490,” the statement added.

The debate over the “race codes” was raised on Aug. 1 after Agos reported an official document penned by the Istanbul Provincial Education Directorate, revealing that Turkey’s population administration system had been recording citizens who have Armenian, Jewish or Anatolian Greek (Rum) origins with secret “race codes.”

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