The memory of lost homelands and the pain still burn in the hearts of the Pontians around the world, more than 100 years from the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus.
As we approach the dark anniversary of 19 May 1919, the day Mustafa Kemal Ataturk landed in Samsun, starting a persecution that would result in the killing of 353,000 people by the Ottoman Turks, the Greek community of Australia pays tribute with a series of commemorative events which start on Sunday.
The deep sympathy of the Australian Government towards the great suffering of Greeks and other populations, endured during the final years of the Ottoman empire was expressed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, in letter to the The Federation the Greek Elderly Citizen Clubs of Melbourne & Victoria.
Addressed to the president of the Federation John Kostoulias, senator Payne states that “the Australian Government is deeply sympathetic to the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, and other peoples for the suffering they endured during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. There are deeply held views among affected communities, including in Australia, in relation to the events during this period.”
She added that the government “respects these views, and have a long standing, consistent and clear position, namely that Australia continues to encourarge dialogue among communities and nations to achieve reconciliation concerning this painful period.”
Starting on Sunday, Pontian associations of Melbourne, under the auspices of the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations, remembers the persecuted Christian populations of Pontus, paying tribute with a series of commemorative events.
Memorial Service and a Wreath Laying Ceremony
A commemorative event will be held on Sunday 15th of May. The Pontian Associations of Melbourne under the auspices of the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations, are hosting a Memorial Service and a Wreath Laying Ceremony to commemorate the Genocide of the Hellenes of Pontos on Sunday 15th of May at 10:00am. The event will take place at Saint Eustathios Greek Orthodox Cathedral, followed by the wreath laying ceremony at the Australian Hellenic Memorial at 12:15pm. For more information contact Mr. Apostolis Alexiadis on 0412 145 100.
Remembering the victims of the Pontian Genocide
The Pontian Association of Whittlesea “Panagia Soumela” together with the youth of the Pontian associations of Melbourne under the auspices of the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations will be hosting a commemoration event to honour and remember the victims of the Genocide in Pontos on Sunday the 15th of May at 3.00pm. The event will take place at the premises of the association on 18 Spring Street, Thomastown. For more details contact Mr Michael Iroeche on 0402 838 649.
Lecture: The First Pontian Genocide
The Central Pontian Association of Melbourne “Pontiaki Estia”, Merimna Pontion Kyrion Oceania and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne in conjunction with the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations, are hosting a lecture by lawyer, poet and short story writer, Dean Kalimniou titled “The First Pontian Genocide: Mithridates and Rome”. The lecture will be held on Thursday 19 May at 7pm at the Greek Centre’s Mezzanine Level, 168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, and online on youtube and facebook. For more details contact Litsa Athanasiadis on 0421 804 968.
Lighting of the Greek Centre
A red light will drench the Greek Centre on Lonsdale Street at Melbourne’s CBD on 19 May, to commemorate the victims of the Greek Genocide. The initiative is sponsored by anonymous donors.
Book launch: “Soumela and the Magic Kemenche”
The first children’s book to delve into the tragic events of the Pontian Genocide in an age-appropriate way, will be launched on Sunday 29 May at 3pm at the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne (570 Victoria Street, North Melbourne). The book titled “Soumela and the Magic Kemenche” was written by Dean Kalimniou both English and Greek and illustrated by Stephanos Eleftheriadis.The book launch is organised by the Greek-Australian Cultural League of Melbourne and the Hellenic Writers Association of Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations. For more information contact Mrs. Cathy Alexopoulos on 0428 968 715.
Neos Kosmos is preparing a special edition to be published on the day of the anniversary, Thursday 19 May, to remember this dark chapter in our history.