YEREVAN, MAY 19, ARTSAKHPRESS. Today, on May 19, the Greeks honor the memory of the victims of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks by the Ottoman Empire and its successor the Republic of Turkey in the period of 1916-1922.
Simultaneous to the Armenian Genocide the Turkish government launched a campaign of eliminating other non-Muslim ethnicity living in the country. By the way, witnessing the massacres and mass deportations of the Armenian people, the Pontic Greeks started forming the first guerrilla groups for self-defense. Turkish anti-Christian campaign continued during the upcoming years as well. According to various estimates, 300-350 Greeks were killed in Pontus as a result of the Turkish policy, while a small number of survivors found shelter in Greece and other parts of the world.
Everybody has heard about the Smyrna Massacre, and the policy against the non-Muslims in 1940s. Relying on previous experience, the Turks formed labor battalions for eliminating the Greeks. They also launched the large-scale operation of assimilation. In 1953-55 the Turkish government carried out massacres of Greeks in Imbros, Tenedos and Istanbul.
Istanbul pogroms of Greeks in September 1955 were another demonstration of anti-Greek policy, after which the Greeks started to abandon ancient Byzantine capital. The Cyprus invasion of 1974 and the massacres following it once again showed that the Turks do not tolerate any kind of Greek presence.
At the same time it shoud be noted that these Turkish acts, like in the case of the Armenian Genocide, never recieved adequate international reaction. In 1994 the parliament of Greece declared May 19, the day when Kemal Atatürk landed in Samsounda city, the Greek-Pontic Genocide Remembrance Day.
Simultaneous to the debates on criminalization of the Armenian Genocide denial, the launch of the campaign for the international recognition of the massacres of Greeks was extremely unwanted for Turks. The activities of the Greek authorities in that direction have always been reacted nervously.
24 years ago, on April 25 1996, the issue of the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide entered the agenda of the Greek parliament with the formulation of declaring April 24 the day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey. It was mentioned during the debates that the Armenian Genocide ”was one of the 1st steps taken in the direction of pan-Turkism and pan-Turanianism. The genocide and elimination of the Hellenic element of Pontus was followed by the elimination of the Greek element in Constantinople, Imbros, Tendos, the criminal invasion of Cyprus and its barbaric conquest, and today the elimination of the Kurds, Turkey’s threats against its neighbors and the usurpation of lands”.
I published an article in ”Yerkir” weekly in 2006, saying ”Armenia should be one of the 1st to adopt a legal document adequately condemning the Greek massacres… In general, Armenia should be the initiator of recognitions and condemnations of genocides at international arenas, since crimes against humanity are issues touching each member of the international community and the indifference stemming from some political calculations, which Armenia has been facing in terms of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, should never become part of Armenia’s official policy”.
On March 24, 2015 Armenia officially recognized the genocide of Pontic Greeks. The joint efforts against the Turkish denialism is important, and it’s important first of all for the Turkish society, since only justice can set free from the chains of the past.
Years ago, during the debates on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide the late Prime Minister of Greece Stefanos Stefanopoulos said, ”The unfortunate Jewish people had the luck to see Willy Brandt on his kneels at one of the concentration camps, I think in Auschwitz, publicly apologizing from the international community and humanity. Is there anyone here or across the world that can believe that Demirel or any other Turkish president or prime minister can ever kneel down for the same reason on the banks of the Euphrates, in the gorges of Erzurum or Kharberd and apologise from the humanity for the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians, given the fact that Turkey pre-occupied with its nationalistic and chauvinistic delirium, distorting the history and mocking the victims of its own policy, raised a monument dedicated to the memory of Turks slaughtered by Armenians”.
And today this rhetoric question is still relevant not only for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but also for the Pontic Genocide.
During the debates on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide one of the Greek parliamentarians said, ”The 1st court against genocide took place in 405 B.C. It was the trial of Lampsacus one year before the end of the Peloponnesian War. At that time the Athenians had declared that if the Spartans and their allies are defeated, they will cut off the right hand of each of their enemies, and moreover, a week before they had drowned in Aegean Sea, the allies of the Spartans – Corinthians and the population of Andros. But when following the defeat of the Athenian navy Athenian Admiral Philocles was arrested, Lysander asked him what punishment he thinks he deserve, Philocles answered, ”Deal out the exact same punishment you would have suffered had you been defeated”.
This was the 1st Nuremberg iin the history of humanity…
Written by ARMENPRESS Director Aram Ananyan, translated by Tigran Sirekanyan