This month marks a particularly significant anniversary for the Greek community: 19 May, the official anniversary of the atrocities carried out against the minority groups of Pontus and Asia Minor in modern-day Turkey.
The genocide of 1914 to roughly 1923 carried out against the Greeks of these regions, and Armenians and Assyrians living within the Ottoman empire is contested. After all these years, successive Turkish governments have all denied the horrific actions, and closer to home in Australia, South Australia and New South Wales are the only states to have recognised the genocide, while the Greek Parliament recognised the genocide against the Greeks in 1994.
However it remains that millions of people were killed, approximately 1.5 million of whom were Greeks, and this year marks 99 years since the beginning of the genocide’s second phase against Christian populations by the Turks.
To pay tribute to those who lost their lives, Victoria’s Greek Genocide Commemoration Committee led by its president Peter Stefanidis, has organised events that will take place throughout next week.
Commencing on Wednesday 16 May, solicitor and writer Dean Kalimniou will present a seminar at Melbourne’s Greek Centre on ‘Crypto-Christians of Pontus’ at 7.00 pm.
Taking place as part of the GOCMV Culture and History Seminars in conjunction with Pontiaki Estia, it will focus on the case of the Kromlides and the Stavriotes, two communities that periodically belonged to the Orthodox and Muslim communities during the Ottoman period and were compelled to negotiate through prevailing expectations and stereotypes, along with a discriminatory legal system poised upon reform, at a time of great political foment and change.
To follow, on Friday, a commemorative event will be hosted at the Darebin Genocide Monument in Preston at 6.00 pm.
The main event will take place on the anniversary on Saturday at 11.30 am, with a wreath-laying ceremony scheduled at the Hellenic Memorial in the CBD.
The week will end with a special church service at St Eustathios Greek Orthodox Church in South Melbourne on Sunday 20 May at 9.00 am.
Meanwhile the commemorations will aptly conclude at the Pontian Community in Brunswick with a seminar by University of Melbourne PhD candidate,
Themistocles Kritikakos on ‘Pontians in contemporary Australia: Survival and memory in the Antipodes’ at 2.30 pm.
All members of the community are welcome to attend the events to honour those who lost their lives. To RSVP to the seminar by Themistocles Kritikakos, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Peter Stefanidis on 0401 672 124.