The Revival Process, which is also known in English as the Process of Rebirth (Bulgarian: Възродителен процес - Vǎzroditelen protses) was the official name of the policy of forced assimilation of Bulgaria's Turkish minority and the country's other Muslim minorities of different ethnicities.
Bulgaria's about 900,000 ethnic Turks, at that time representing 10% of the country's population, were to assimilate by changing their Turkish and Arabic names, including their deceased ancestors', to "Bulgarian" names. Exercising their Turkish customs and language as well as Islamic faith were also prohibited. The name-changing campaign was carried out between late 1984 and early 1985. The repressions lasted unabated from 1984 through 1989 under the communist government of Todor Zhivkov. Those who refused were subjected to persecution, including imprisonment, expulsion and internment in the then reactivated infamous Belene labor camp, situated on an island in the Danube river.
In 1984, the Bulgarian Government initiated an assimilation campaign in which Turks were forced to change their Turkish names for Bulgarian names. By March 1985 the Bulgarian Government announced the Bulgarisation had been completed and the Bulgarian Turks were provided with several newly issued documents for identification. The Turkish minority rebelled and protests ensued against the forced assimilation and by 1989 the Bulgarian Government came to the conclusion that an emigration of the Turkish population into Turkey was to be encouraged actively.
1989 Ethnic CleansingEdit
In early 1989, in some areas with large ethnic Turkish populations severe clashes with fatalities occurred, following which the Chairman of the Bulgarion state council Todor Zhivkov addressed to population encouraging Bulgarian Turks to settle to Turkey. Shortly after his address, the border with Turkey was opened on 29 May 1989 exclusively for the country's Turks and Muslims and over 360,000 left Communist Bulgaria for Turkey between 30 May 1989 and 22 August 1989. Turkey eventually closed the border to prevent a further immigration of Bulgarian Turks.
This 1989 expulsion of the Bulgarian Turks to Turkey has been the largest case of ethnic cleansing in Europe since the expulsion of Germans living east of the Oder-Neisse line during 1944-1950, as agreed at the Potsdam Conference. On 11 January 2012, the Bulgarian Parliament officially recognized the 1989 expulsion as ethnic cleansing. However, some of the country's mainstream parties tend to neglect and disregard this 1989 ethnic cleansing.
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