The 2016 short documentary film ‘Imroz’, directed by Murat Yüksel, Onur Tekin and Zehra Güzel, reveals the experiences and personal testimonies of the ‘Rums’ (Anatolian Greeks) on Imroz Island.
The documentary – which was produced within the scope of the “BAK: Look at the City to Remember and Narrate” project in 2015 – was screened by the History Foundation in 2016. It can now be viewed online on YouTube.
The name of ‘Imroz island’ was officially changed to ‘Gökçeada island’ in Turkey half a century ago as part of the ‘Turkification’ that took place against the island population. The documentary highlights the manner in which nationalist policies led to extreme persecution of the local Greek population of the island. Witnesses of these events provide testimony in the documentary.
”There was an increase in the Muslim population in the island during the the Ottoman period. Afterwards, some painful events began in the 1940s and ended with the ‘transformation’ of the island into ‘Gökçeada’ in the 1970s”, said Murat Yüksel, the director of the documentary in an interview with MA.
Yüksel explained that although they had information about Imroz island, the idea of the documentary developed as they began to conduct deep historical research into the events and policies and practices of the time.
He made reference to the policies targeting non-Muslim peoples during the Ottoman period. “Turkey imposed a ‘Wealth Tax’ on non-Muslim citizens’ property in 1942. In the following period, the events of ‘6-7 September 1955’ occured and the construction of a prison in Imroz began in 1964, Yüksel noted. “Many people who were convicted of ferocious crimes and deaths in Turkey were transferred to this prison. The reason why a prison was built in the island was of course, again, political: that is, the aim was to expel the Greeks from Imroz”, Yüksel concluded.
The director shared his perspectives on the mentality of the nation-state and its actions on the people and heritage on Imroz island. ”Those people who lived together – who were friendly with each other for hundreds of years – became victims after the establishment of the nation state”, he said. ”Each policy that was applied to Imroz was imposed in line with nationalist policies. The people who were living on friendly terms in the ancient lands of Anatolia, unfortunately, have been sacrificed to nationalist thought in the past century in an attempt to completely erase their traces from Anatolian lands”.