A series of memorial services and celebrations to remember and honour the lives lost during the Greek Genocide in the region of Pontos, kicks off this week as part of the annual commemorative events organised by the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations.

Recognised by the Greek state in 1994 and honoured at May 19 since, this genocide stands as the Hellenes’ bleakest chapters, the systematic eradication of the native Greek populace of Anatolia.

The atrocities included massacres, rapes, forced deportations, and perilous marches. In the genocide, most Eastern Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious landmarks were erased.

The main events will take place on the day of the anniversary, Sunday 19 May, starting with a memorial service held at the Holy Monastery of Axion Estin followed by a wreath laying ceremony.

This year’s anniversary will once again see the Greek Centre in Melbourne bathed in red light in remembrance of the Pontian Greek Genocide (1916-1923).

The red illumination of the Centre symbolises the extermination of 350,000 Hellenes by Turkish troops and Kurdish paramilitaries. The actual number of victims may be closer to 500,000, as many perished on forced marches into the Anatolian desert.

Greek cities (Pafra, Samsous, Kerasous, and Trapezous) endured massacres and deportations that decimated their populations.

The tribute by the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) underlines the importance of acknowledging past atrocities while educating future generations.

The Greek Centre will be lit in red in honour of the Pontian Genocide. Photo: Supplied

Read below the full schedule of events:

  • Thursday May 16

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 Dean Kalimniou titled “Pontus the Opera” at 7pm. The event will take place at the Greek Centre’s Mezzanine Level, 168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne.

For more details, please contact Litsa Athanasiadis on 0421 804 968.

  • Sunday May 19

The Pontian associations of Melbourne under the auspices of the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations, are hosting a Memorial Service for the lives lost during the Genocide of Hellenes in the region of Pontos on Sunday at 9.30am. The doxology will take place at Holy Monastery of Axion Estin, (7 Hartington St, Northcote). For more information, please contact Yiannis Pilalidis on 0414 334 233.

A wreath laying ceremony commemorating the lives lost during the Greek Pontian Genocide will be held at the “Monument of the Fallen”, at 12pm. The ceremony will be held at the rear of the Holy Monastery of Axion Estin. Community organisations are welcome to register to lay a wreath by sending an email to ausfedpontianassoc@gmail.com.

One of the highlights of this year’s Melbourne program is the premiere screening of the film, ‘Lethal Nationalism – Genocide of the Greeks 1913-1923’. The award-winning documentary ‘chronicles the genocide of the Greeks, and other indigenous Christians, at the hands of the Ottoman and Nationalist Turks’. The film was funded by the ‘Asia Minor and Pontos Research Centre’ (USA) and directed by Peter Lambrinatos, written by John McCarthy and narrated by known American news anchor, Bill Kurtis.

The film has been screened around the world and will be making its debut in Australia on Sunday, May 19 at Palace Cinema Pentridge ( 1 Champ St, Coburg) at 4.30pm.

The Melbourne screening has been organised in close collaboration with the Food for Thought Network, the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies, the Greek Community of Melbourne and the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations and sponsored by Elite Custom Pluming and Moka Foods.

Tickets will be available for purchase via TryBooking. The film will be in the English language.

For further information, please contact Simela Stamatopoulos via email: ausfedpontianassoc@gmail.com

  • Monday May 20 to Wednesday May 29

The Educational Institution “Hellenism of Anatolia –– from the Aegean Sea to Pontos”, of the Australian Federation of Pontian Associations will be hosting a 10day exhibition on Hellenism of Asia Minor and Cyprus titled “In the Footsteps of Digenes Akritas” –– an exhibition on the common historical and cultural elements that unite Hellenism of Cyprus and Pontos, Crete, Cappadocia and Asia Minor in general.

The display will be located at the ‘Community House’ of The Greek Orthodox Community of Oakleigh and District (62 Willesden Rd Hughesdale), from 12pm to 6pm daily.

The official opening of the exhibition will take place on Monday, May 20 at Oakleigh Grammar, (77/81 Willesden Rd, Oakleigh, entrance via Clapham Rd) at 7pm.

For the full program of events that will be held at the premises and to book an educational tour offered to schools and community groups please contact Yiota Stavridou on 0481 238 880.