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In 1994, May 19 was selected by the Greek parliament as the day to commemorate the Pontian Greek Genocide by the Turks. Pontus (“sea” in Greek),is an historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Anatolia, Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region and its mountainous hinterland (rising to the Pontic Alps in the east) in antiquity by the Greeks who colonised the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος Εύξεινος Pontos Euxeinos (“Hospitable Sea”), or simply Pontos. Originally with no specific name, the region east of the river Halys was spoken of as the country εν Πόντοι en Pontôi, “on the [Euxeinos] Pontos”, and hence acquired the name of Pontus, which is first found in Xenophon’s Anabasis. Wikipedia Its connections with Hellenism stretches back to prehistoric times to the legends of Jason and the Argonauts quest for the Golden Fleece and to Heracles obtaining the Amazon Queen’s girdle. Many famous churches, monasteries and schools are a testament to the resilience of Hellenism. The Pontians are a distinct Greek people with their own dialect, dances, songs and theatre. It ended in tragedy in the years 1916 – 23 of the 574.000 Greeks living in Pontus in 1916, 350.000 were killed and the remainder became refugees. Three millenia of the Greek presence was wiped out by a deliberate policy of creating a Turkey for the Turks. The Pontian people were denied the right to exist, the right of respect for their national and cultural identity, the right to remain in peaceful occupation of their territory. The turning point in the treatment of Greeks in Turkey was the alliance between Germany and the Sultan that commenced after the Treaty of Berlin 1878. Germany regarded Anglo French protection of Christians as an obstacle to its interests and convinced the Turkish authorities that the Greeks were working for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Germany opened the Berlin Academy to Turkish officers and General Gotz was appointed to restructure the Ottoman armed forces. The successful national movements in the Balkans posed a threat that the same would occur in Asia Minor. After the Balkan Wars the Young Turks decided that Asia Minor would be a homeland for Turks alone and that the Greeks and Armenians had to be eliminated. The outbreak of World War I made this possible and Germany willingly sacrificed the Christian minorities to achieve its aim in the Middle East. However, it is the German and Austrian diplomats’ reports that confirm that what took place was a systematic and deliberate extermination of the Christian population. Genocide. Not security or defence measures, not relocations of population (why forcibly relocate populations?) not war, not retaliation to the Pontian guerrillas or Russian invasion but GENOCIDE. Slaughtered Christians. Terrorism, labor battalions, exiles, forced marches, rapes, hangings, fires, murders, planned, directed and executed by the Turkish authorities. This can be corroborated by the German and Austrian archives now made public: 24/7/1909. German Ambassador in Athens Wangenheim to Chancellor Bulow quoting Turkish Prime Minister Sefker Pasha: “The Turks have decided upon a war of extermination against their Christian subjects.” 26/7/1909. Sefken Pasha visited Patriarch lokeim III and tells him: “we will cut off your heads, we will make you disappear. It is either you or us who will survive.” 14/5/1914. Official document from Talaat Bey Minister of the Interior to Prefect of Smyrna: The Greeks, who are Ottoman subjects, and form the majority of inhabitants in your district, take advantage of the circumstances in order to provoke a revolutionary current, favourable to the intervention of the Great Powers. Consequently, it is urgently necessary that the Greeks occupying the coastline of Asia Minor be compelled to evacuate their villages and install themselves in the vilayets of Erzerum and Chaldea. If they should refuse to be transported to the appointed places, kindly give instructions to our Moslem brothers, so that they shall induce the Greeks, through excesses of all sorts, to leave their native places of their own accord. Do not forget to obtain, in such cases, from the emigrants certificates stating that they leave their homes on their own initiative, so that we shall not have political complications ensuing from their displacement. 31/7/1915. German priest J.Lepsius: – “The anti-Greek and anti-Armenian persecutions are two phases of one programme – the extermination of the Christian element from Turkey.” 16/7/1916. German Consul Kuchhoff from Amisos to Berlin: “the entire Greek population of Sinope and the coastal region of the county of Kastanome has been exiled. Exile and extermination in Turkish are the same, for whoever is not murdered, will die from hunger or illness.” 30/11/1916. Austrian consul at Amisos Kwiatkowski to Austria Foreign Minister Baron Burian: “On 26 November Rafet Bey told me: ‘we must finish off the Greeks as we did with the Armenians… on 28 November. Rafer Bey told me-, “today I sent squads to the interior to kill every Greek on sight”. I fear for the elimination of the entire Greek population and a repeat of what occurred last year”‘ (meaning the Armenian genocide). 13/12/1916. German Ambassador Kuhlman to Chancellor Hollweg in Berlin:“Consuls Bergfeld in Samsun and Schede in Kerasun report of displacement of local population and murders. Prisoners are not kept. Villages reduced to ashes. Greek refugee families consisting mostly of women and children being marched from the coasts to Sebasteia. The need is great.” 19/12/1916. Austrian Ambassador to Turkey Pallavicini to Vienna lists the villages in the region of Amisos that were being burnt to the ground and their inhabitants raped, murdered or dispersed. 20/1/1917. Austrian Ambassador Pallavicini: “the situation for the displaced is desperate. Death awaits them all. I spoke to the Grand Vizier and told him that it would be sad if the persecution of the Greek element took the same scope and dimension as the Armenian persecution. The Grand Vizier promised that he would influence Talaat Bey and Emver Pasha.” 31/1/1917. Talaat Bey to Austrian agent: “The time is near for Turkey to be finished with the Greeks as we were with the Armenians in 1915″. 9/2/1917. Austrian Chancellor Hollweg’s report: “… the indications are that the Turks plan to eliminate the Creek element as enemies of the state, as they did earlier with the Armenians. The strategy implemented by the Turks is of displacing people to the interior without taking measures for their survival by exposing them to death, hunger and illness. The abandoned homes are then looted and burnt or destroyed. Whatever was done to the Armenians is being repeated with the Greeks. Greek civilians mourn their dead relatives, Smyrna massacre, 1922 By government decree 350.000 Pontian Greeks were annihilated through exile, starvation, cold, illness, slaughter, murder, gallows, axe, fire. Those who survived fled never returned. The Pontians are now scattered all over the world as a result of the genocide and their unique history, language (the dialect is a valuable link between ancient and modern Greek), and culture and endangered and face extinction. A double crime was committed – genocide and the uprooting from these peoples ancestral homelands of three millenia. The Christian nations were not only witnesses to this horrible and monstrous crime, which remains unpunished, but for reasons of political expediency and self-interest have, by their silence, pardoned the criminal. The Ottoman and Kemalist Turks were responsible for the genocide of the Pontian people, the most heinous of all crimes according to international law. The international community must recognize this crime. The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Asia Minor, central Anatolia, Pontus, and the former Russian Caucasus province of Kars Oblast during World War I and its aftermath (1914–23). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary executions, and destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical and religious monuments. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period. Some of the survivors and refugees, especially those in Eastern provinces, took refuge in the neighbouring Russian Empire. After the end of the 1919–22 Greco-Turkish War, most of the Greeks remaining in the Ottoman Empire were transferred to Greece under the terms of the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Armenians, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination. Wikipedia It’s estimated that some 1.5 million Greeks and 380,000 Pontian Greeks were murdered by the Turks, who have thus far refused to acknowledge this fact. There are various estimates of the toll. Records kept mainly by priests show a minimum 350,000 Pontian Greeks exterminated through systematic slaughter by Turkish troops and Kurdish para-militaries. Other estimates, including those of foreign missionaries, spoke of 500,000 deaths, most through deportation and forced marches into the Anatolian desert interior. Thriving Greek cities like Bafra, Samsous, Kerasous, and Trapezous, at the heart of Pontian Hellenism on the coast of the Black Sea, endured recurring massacres and deportations that eventually destroyed their Greek population.