Imbros

Located in the Aegean Sea Imbros remained one of the few places in Turkey where Greek -culture life continued on after 1923. Imbros was entirely inhabitted by Rums till 1923 when it was handed over to Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne with a special autonomous administrative status for Imbros (Gokceada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada) to accommodate the Rums, and excluded them from the population exchange that took place between Greece and Turkey, due to their presence there as a majority. In 1927, the system of local administration on Imbros was abrogated and the Rum schools were closed till 1951. After being re-opened in 1952 they had been shut down in 1964 following a decision issued by the government of Ismet Inonu which launched the plan of dissolution of the Rum community in Turkey. Authorities started Turkish population settlements from the mainland to the island expropriating  almost all the usable land on Imbros for an army camp, an open - prison, a dam project, and a national park. In 1970 Imbros is renamed as “Gökçeada” in Turkish. The policy of repression culminated in 1974, the year of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the interruption in Greek education and all the social and economical enforcements  led  the Rums emigrating from Imbros. Before 1964 there were almost 6,000 Greeks on the island, and now there  are around 250 , mostly elderly, left. Many of these Rums and their descendants return every year to attend the major religious feasts and festivals. Given the small number of Orthodox Christians remaining on the islands, it is clear that these religious ceremonies and festivals could not have survived without the participation of the Rums from Diaspora. The feast dedicated to Virgin Mart (Panayia / Eorti Dispenagies) on Imbros is celebrated with various religious, social and entertainment events between 15th and 22th of August. The number of Rums attending the feast from both abroad and the other settlements of Turkey exceeds 1000 people.

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