Event at the European Parliament Commemorates 75 Years of the Expulsion of the Chams
On the 27 July 2019, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) facilitated a photo exhibition event at the European Parliament hosted by MEP Csaba Sógor (EPP) to commemorate the 75th year of the expulsion of the Cham people from their homeland.
The event brought together representatives of the Democratic foundation of Chameria alongside a number of other Chams travelling from Germany and Albania, to remember the atrocities faced by the Cham people and highlight the ongoing violations of their fundamental rights, including the right to return to their homeland. The large scale photographs displayed the horrifying atrocities committed against the Chams during the ethnic cleansing of the region and reflected the Cham struggle at the time.
Lucia Parrucci, UNPO Advocacy and Training Coordinator, opened the discussion by drawing attention to the crimes committed against the Cham people and expressed support for their cause. Ms Parrucci voiced particular concern over the ongoing violations against the Chams, including being denied their right to their culture, language, property, the restoration of their citizenship and the right to return to their homeland. This was followed by a speech by MEP Csaba Sogor who reflected on the large scale violence and mass deportations committed against the Chams, leaving many people uprooted.
Festim Lato, the president of the Democratic foundation of Chameria, and other representatives shared their personal experiences of the violence and marginalization faced by the Cham Albanian population at the hands of previous Greek governments. Mr Lato focused on international dialogue to advocate for the prosperity of Chameria and asked the international community to stand together and take a stance in the defence of their fundamental rights.
Mr. Jeroen Zandberg, an associate of Festim Lato, explained the history leading up to the expulsion of the Cham during World War II and how this historical event left its mark on the region and on the Cham-Albanian people in particular. He continued by explaining the political advocacy work that has been done in the previous two years, which has raised the awareness of the Cham issue in the European institutions.
The event concluded with the representatives of the Democratic foundation of Chameria highlighting the significance of the event to their struggle and thanking the MEP for supporting their cause.