Press Release


(Greek National Committee of the International Helsinki Federation)

(Greek Affiliate of Minority Rights Group International)

P.O. Box 51393, GR-14510 Kifisia, Greece Tel. 30-1-620.01.20; Fax: 30-1-807.57.67; E-mail:


12 June 1996


Two Greek citizens -Mr. Hussein Ramadanoglou and his wife, Mrs. Aisse-Gul Fetaoglou, are the latest victims of the notorious Article 19 of the Code for Greek Nationality.

This article provides for the administrative measure of deprivation of citizenship on the grounds of "having left the country with no intention to return" It is in the discretion of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs to interpret the "intention" of individuals, and this discretion has been consistently used against Greek citizens, members of the Muslim minority of Thrace, North-Eastern Greece, composed of ethnic Turks, Pomaks and Roma.

The case of the Ramadanoglou is notable both for its timing -in a period when the new Greek government is publicly committing itself to improve the conditions and respect the rights of the Muslim minority- and for the blatantly senseless application of the above mentioned Article 19.

Indeed, the Ramadanoglou, of the Xanthi region in Thrace, in their petition to the minister of Domestic Affairs of May 14, 1996, present ample evidence to sustain their claim that they are Greek and have every intention to live work and raise their children in this country.

Mr. and Mrs. Ramadanoglou, together with their new-born daughter Pelin went to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1990, where Mr. H. Ramadanoglou got himself a job. Their son, Yussuf, was born there in 1992.

Mr. H. Ramadanoglou has twice renewed his passport at the Greek consulate in Frankfurt and was holding a valid passport with date of expiration April 17, 1996. Mrs. Ramadanoglou likewise renewed her passport once in Frankfurt and is holder of one valid till May 4, 1999, while their daughter has a passport valid till March 14, 1998. Their son, whose birth has been registered with the Frankfurt Greek Consulate, has a passport also valid till March 14, 1998.

Moreover, Mr. H. Ramadanoglou holds a social security card in Greece, valid till December 31, 1996, while his wife passed a test in Greece for having license in December 1995. Finally, since September 1996 their daughter is attending school in Xanthi, not living in Germany any more.

The Ramadanoglou family have been visiting Greece almost every year, where their parents live permanently, and have also brought or sent sums of money repeatedly.

Last April they came to Greece again. Since the passport of Mr. Ramadanoglou was due for renewal, he cared to obtain a new one, this time from the relevant Greek authorities in Xanthi.

Thus, holding legal documents in perfect order considering themselves as genuine Greeks, having relatives and property in Greece, the two Ramadanoglou and their daughter had absolutely no reason to believe that trouble was forthcoming, when they decided to visit an uncle in Turkey.

On the way back, they were told that their citizenship had been taken away already since November 1992, under Article 19. Notably, their son who did not accompany them to Turkey retains his citizenship!

Mr. H.Ramadanoglou managed to unearth a document, dating November 1991, which claims that he never renewed his passport since 1991- a claim which is manifestly untrue.

It is a clear case of administrative measures with no discernible connection with any sense of law, taken in the context of discriminatory attitudes against minorities members. As such, they must be immediately stopped. The passports of the Ramadanoglou family must be returned, and article 19 must be repealed.



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