The Laz Students Community Established in Istanbul in 1914
Keywords:Lazs, organization, Ottomans, students, Charter
In the Ottoman Empire, where all Muslims were united in one commune, it was banned to start any kind of national association, and the formation of an ethnic union was strictly prosecuted. Even though their program pointed out that “the organization’s goal is to establish friendship and brotherhood between Laz students and the intelligentsia, increasing of knowledge, and assistance to the poor”, “together with the great sense of Ottoman majesty”, the members of the association had to work for economic and social development. In no case, the association was to deal with political affairs. There was no mention of Laz language and identity, although the title speaks for itself.
The statute is written in stilted Ottoman Turkish, includes 10 chapters and 32 articles. The notable part is that the Executive Committee has a large number of rights... In contrast, the authority of the Governing and the General Council is limited.
The Charter doesn’t contain the names of the founders. Therefore, The Laz National Development Organization, established in 1919, doesn’t provide a connection of those who seemed to be its founders.
The Charter was established in 1914 and published in 1916. Accordingly, it can be supposed that the organization worked between this period since the first article provides that “at this moment, in the name of The Laz National Charity Organization, an association was formed in Istanbul”. The words “at this moment” point to the fact that this was the continuation of the early formed The National Organization of Laz Students.
The latest period of the Ottoman Empire was the time when Laz people with other nationalities living there were in search of their national identity.