“The month of May, personally for me, is a time when feelings are more vivid and memories are more intense as I recall stories told by my grandfather about the loss of his father and forced exile of his family from Pontus to Russia to be saved from slaughter,” Roma Siachos, Secretary of Pontian Community of Melbourne and Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Pontian Associations of Melbourne, wrote in her article on the Pontian Genocide, featured in the Greek edition of Neos Kosmos.
The Greek genocide, including the Pontic Genocide, was the systematic killing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population of Anatolia carried out during WWI and its aftermath (1914-2922), instigated by the Ottoman Empire, and carried out on the basis of religion and ethnicity.
Greeks from the region were killed and refugees and survivors fled from Greece, adding over a quarter to the prior population of the country, others – like the Siachos family – took refuge in the neighbouring Russian Empire.
Trauma is still carried by the families of those who were expelled.
“Pontos continues to live on in our hearts,” Ms Siachos said.
“Every year on this day, the Pontian lyra coordinates the beat of our hearts with the sum of our unjustly lost ancestors. We, their offspring, hear the beats of their hearts and mourning, no matter where we live.”
In 1994, Greek Parliament declared 19 May, the day Mustafa Kemal Ataturk landed in Samsun in 1919, as a ‘Day of Remembrance for the Greek Genocide in Asia Minor’.
Events to commemorate a sad day
Sunday, 16 May
Service at St Eustathios (221 Dorcas Street, South melbourne) at 11am, wreath-laying at 12.15pm at the Domain, between Birdwood Avenue and Government Drive.
Kostas Pataridis will present a talk, titled “Renaissance of the Greek Nation and the forgotten ones”, at 4pm at the Municipality of Moreland (90 Bell Street, Coburg)
Monday, 17 May
Service for lives lost during the Genocide at Axion Esti Monastery (7 Harlington Street Northcote) at 7pm.
Wednesday, 19 May
Professor Thomas Savvidis will give a lecture, titled “Memory of Pontian Greek Genocide 1913-1922” at the Greek Centre (168 Lonsdale Street).
Sunday, 30 May
A walk to remember the Genocide at Kokoda Memorial Archway, with a gathering next to the Carpark at Dandenong Ranges national Park, Melbourne.
* There will be events held through to October.