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Commemorating the 1914-23 Greek Pontic Genocide

genoktonia_pontosVarious events took place in Athens during the week of May 5, 2014, in memory of the Greek Pontic genocide by the Ottoman Empire under Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal during World War I. The aftermath during 1914–1923, claimed aproximately 200,000 to 250,000 deaths and is commemorated each year on May 19.
Last Saturday, the regional unit of Athens performed a prayer for the dead under Greece’s Archbishop Ieronymos II, while representatives of the Greek parliament, the Greek armed forces and Pontiac associations laid wreaths at commemorative memorials.
“May 19 should be established as a memorial day across Europe, as has happened for the Holocaust, so as to remember the victims of Kemalism which equals fascism. The key part of Mustafa Kemal must not be suppressed,” Professor of Social Sciences and member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) Theofanis Malkidis mentioned.
The systematic ethnic cleansing of the Greek Pontic population residing in Asia Minor, central Anatolia, Pontus, and the former Russian Caucasus province was part of a wider Ottoman plan to annihilate the Christian population living within Turkey, including Greeks, Syrians and Armenians.
Among the leading reasons for the mass extinction was the fear that the minority population would aid the Ottoman Empire’s enemies, and a belief among nationalist Turks that in order to form a modern nation it was necessary to free Turkish territories from all ethnic minority groups that could threaten the integrity of a modern Turkish Islamist nation.
The Ottomans foremost feared the Pontic population not only because of their rapidly growing numbers that had reached 700,000 by the early 20th century, but also because of the minority’s cultural and economic growth. Cities like Samsous, Trapezous and Kerasous displayed a remarkable growth with dozens of schools, newspapers, theaters and other amenities.
The rise of the Young Turks movement, however, would put a brutal end to the thriving Greek community of the area. While the Greek state was busy solving internal political and territorial disputes and in no position to open new fronts with Turkey, the Pontic population, as well as many Greeks across Asia Minor, were dislocated and systematically exterminated.
The few Pontic resistance groups were completely crushed by joint German, Russian and Ottoman forces, and by the time the Asia Minor catastrophe reached its peak in 1922, more than 250,000 Pontic Greeks had already lost their lives in concentration camps. Of the survivors, the majority were transferred to Greece following the 1919-22 Greco-Turkish war, thus almost eliminating the Pontus area of its Greek ethnic presence.
Until today, the Greek genocide in Pontus has experienced limited recognition, with the parliaments of Greece, Cyprus and Sweden, the IAGS and some other organizations having adopted resolutions recognizing the government-sponsored massacre as genocide. The United Nations, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe, however, have not made any related statements, the reason for which can be traced back to the absence of relevant information, and the Greek side not seeking recognition for the events.
The Turkish state also follows a direct political line of denialism, declining to recognize any genocides taking place by the Turkish government and its officials, including the widely acknowledged Armenian and Assyrian genocides.

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