One of last migrants in Turkey-Greece population exchange dies aged 97
BURSA - Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoSelami Atar, one of the last remaining members of a group who migrated from Greece to Turkey as part of the population exchange after World War I and the Turkish War of Independence, has died at the age of 97. He was buried with an olive branch and soil from his hometown Preveza in northwestern Greece.
Atar was five years old when he came to Turkey from Preveza with his family in 1924 during the population exchange.
He died in hospital in the Gemlik district of the northwestern province of Bursa on Jan. 1.
Atar’s daughter, Nurdan Atar Okumuş, said her father’s uncle was a mayor in Preveza before the population exchange.
“My father had a wealthy family there. They left everything behind and came to Gemlik on the ferry. Last year, some people from Gemlik visited Preveza and brought back olive branches and soil for my father. He was very happy and we have now buried him with that olive branch and soil,” she said.
The Social Security Institution (SGK) presented a medal to Akar on May 2015 for being the oldest living survivor of the population exchange.
The exchange of Muslims and Orthodox Christians followed the signing of the Lausanne Treaty, which established the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923. As part of the arrangement, nearly 2 million people were required to immigrate between the modern states of Greece and Turkey, abandoning their ancestral homelands.
Selami Akar later became a father of four and worked as a carpenter in Gemlik. He never again visited Preveza after coming to Gemlik in the population exchange in 1924.