Atkinson is NOT a phil-hellene!
I read with quite some shock at the title ‘trantellena’ (30 times Greek) bestowed upon the South Australian Justice Minister Michael Atkinson on the Neos Kosmos website.
The title was part of an award called the Golden Trantellena Award that was handed over to the Minister by the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia at a function in Adelaide.
Not only do I find this title un-befitting to this man, but I find it quite offensive! For the following reasons.
Mr. Atkinson is being labelled a ‘trantellena’ for his role in having the so called ‘Pontian’ genocide recognised in the South Australian Lower House.
The question is; why isn’t Mr. Atkinson trying to have the genocide of ALL Greeks recognised?
In other words, why isn’t he pushing for the recognition of a Greek Genocide?
If Atkinson was 30 times Greek, he should be doing more than just supporting Pontians. And that’s coming from a Pontian.
Yes, I’m Pontian. But first and foremost, I am Greek!
You see, the genocide wasn’t only inflicted on Pontic Greeks. It was inflicted on ALL Greeks of the former Ottoman Empire during the years 1914-1923.
During this period, upwards of 1 million Greeks perished in a state sponsored plan to eradicate all Greeks from the Empire.
Pontic Greeks state that 353,000 Greeks perished in the Pontus region alone.
Pontic Greek scholar Haris Tsirkinidis in his latest book ‘A historical outline of the Genocide of the Greeks of Anatolia’ (Συνοποτική ιστορία της Γενοκτονίας των Ελλήνων της Ανατολής, 2009) states that 1.5 million Greeks perished during the genocide period.
The majority of these Greeks he states were living outside the region of Pontus. Tsirkinidis refuses to use the term ‘Pontian’ genocide. As does Vlassis Agtzidis, another prominent historian of Pontic descent.
Pontian organisations both here and overseas have for decades been using the term ‘Pontian’ genocide.
Well it has to stop. The term does not describe history as it occurred. In fact in many regards it is a distortion of history.
The genocide was a Greek Genocide. Greeks perished. The Pontians too were Greek. But they cannot have the genocide tag merely for themselves.
Quite simply it is selfish and does not pay due respect to the other Greeks who were killed during the same period.
Genocide is the intention to destroy an ethnic, national or religious group. The ethnic group targeted in this instance was the Greeks. This included the Greeks of Pontus.
Genocide doesn’t confine itself to just regions as the Pontians would have us believe.
It’s time we Greeks united and called the genocide a Greek Genocide. And it’s time Pontians united under the same umbrella as all other Greeks who were affected by this catastrophic event in history.
Please. The exclusivity of suffering that Pontians are employing by using the term ‘Pontian’ genocide must stop.
And if Mr. Atkinson is in fact a ‘trantellena’ and a Justice Minister, he must recognise the death of ALL Greeks, not just the Pontians. Please Mr Atkinson, read some Greek history before attempting to rewrite it.
It was a Greek Genocide. Not a ‘Pontian’ genocide!
Aris Tsilfidis, Melbourne VIC
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