Page 144 - MIGRATION

Basic HTML Version

142
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
A commemorative prayer was read by the chief mufti and wreaths were deposed on behalf of
the Parliament, the President, the Trade Union confederation “Podkrepa,” by social organizations,
schools, municipalities and political parties. A minute of silence was taken to honor the memory
of the people from Momchilgrad region who died in communist camps and prisons.
6
During the following year, several more monuments were raised to the victims of these
events of 1980s – in Gorna Oryahovitsa, Byal Izvor (Ardino municipality) and near Ajtos.
7
The latter
is particularly interesting, as it is related to the participants in the terrorist acts of 1984-85, which
included explosions at the Plovdiv railway station, in the train of Sofia-Burgas, and in a hotel in
Sliven. The intensive debates about raising a monument to the participants in these terrorist
acts led to a state commission for examining the case and it concluded that such a monument
actually desecrates the memory of the victims of the terrorist acts and thus it recommended that
the names of the terrorists be effaced.
8
Hereby, I pay attention to this example both because it
is less known than other more recent and similar debates and because it outlines the debatable
character of such memorial signs – something that resonates in public discussions until today.
This is logical, however, as it is a matter of different and sometimes opposite realms of memory, of
a collision between contested notions of commemorative legitimacy. Whilst for most Bulgarians,
cases of this type are regarded merely as “terrorist acts,” for a large part of the Bulgarian Turks,
they are an expression of opposition against the regime, a radical form of discontent with the
policy followed by the communist state, and thus, contributing to the political changes of 1989.
Aside from being an illustration of the different viewpoints in interpreting the “Revival” process as
a whole, this reflects also the varying interpretation of its victims and their posing between the
poles of the “accidental” death and the expression of “heroic” behavior.
It is important to note, however, that in the first years after the changes, the social and
political noting of the events related to the “Revival”process included a wide spectrum of political
parties (as it was visible in the first commemorative occasions). In contrast, towards the end of
the 1990s – although the position of denouncing these events remained unchanged, a large part
of the public rituals took place under the direct organization of only one political party, the main
political representative of the BulgarianTurks in Bulgaria –
Dvizhenie zaprava iz svobodi
[Movement
of rights and freedoms], or DPS. And, this also indicates the rooting of this political party in the
concrete commemorative occasion and its agenda to extract political legitimacy fromthatmemory
resource. To the extent that political events (and also historical events in general) have got a key
role in consolidating collective identities and – respectively, of different political movements and
parties – such a concentration upon the “Revival” process can hardly pose a surprise. Still, it is
connected, one the one hand, with the gradual withdrawal of state institutions and other political
parties in Bulgaria, with the progressive dropping of these events from commemorative and
engaged political attention; and – on the other hand, with their turning into a launching point
for the political discourse of DPS and their functioning as a legitimation resource of this party.
6 See
Byuletin “Vătreshna informatsiya” – BTA
, 362, 27.12.92.
7 See
Demokratsiya
, 276, 25.11.93;
Podkrepa
, 279, 29.11.93.
8 About the debates on this monument, see
24 chasa
, 242, 8.09.93;
Duma
, 215, 15.09.93;
Дума
, 193, 18.08.95;
24 chasa
, 194, 19.07.95;
Demokratsiya
, 104, 6.05.95;
Duma
, 100, 29.04.95;
Standard News
, 876, 19.02.95.