The Genocide Of The Ottoman Greeks

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The recent vote against the denial of the Armenian Genocide held by the French Parliament, and the discussion to recognize the same event by the Israeli Knesset, brings to the fore the issue of the Turkish government’s adverse reaction, reflecting perhaps a deep-seated sense of culpability and apparent unwillingness to accept responsibility for the first genocide of the Twentieth Century, that of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.

On February 28, 2012 Aristide D. Caratzas is publishing “The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks,” a collective work by nineteen distinguished international scholars, which addresses one of the lesser known aspects of the extermination of the Ottoman Christians, namely that of the Greeks, and provides a number of approaches for the study of this event.

The period of transition from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the foundation of the Turkish Republic was characterized by a number of processes largely guided by a narrow elite that aimed to construct a modern, national state. One of these processes was the deliberate and planned elimination, indeed extermination, of the Christian (and certain other) minorities. The numbers are stark: most scholars agree that in 1912 there were about 4-5 million Christians in Asia Minor and Thrace (Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and others); by 1923 the Christians in the space that became the Turkish Republic were reduced to less than 300,000.

Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who introduced the term “genocide” into international law, formulated his early ideas on the definition of this war crime by studying the destruction of the Christians of Asia Minor, while the distinguished (recently deceased) Turcologist Neoklis Sarris has noted that the annihilation of the Christian minorities represented an integral element of the formation of the Turkish Republic.

As the editors of this volume note, the recent resolution by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) recognizing the Greek and Assyrian genocides (December 2007) reinforces the justification for the study in greater depth of the genocide of the Greek Christian population of Asia Minor and Thrace.

The last two decades have seen a massive amount of research of the genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman/Turkish space; our publishing house has produced a number of works, most notable of which was the eyewitness testimony of Leslie A. Davis, US Consul in Harput (The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat’s Report on the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917).

Much less scholarly work has been done on the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and Thrace; there are many reasons for this, including the fact that Turkish governments have been successful in intimidating diplomats in the context of Turkish-Greek relations of the last generation, and of subverting academic integrity by inducing some scholars (including Greeks) to make a career as denialists supported by international NGOs, in the name of countering “nationalism.”

The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks therefore represents an effort to provide an outline and approaches for more extensive study of the deliberate destruction and elimination of a Greek presence that spanned over three millennia in the space that became the Turkish Republic. It includes fifteen article contributions by scholars from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, and three appendices (“A Chronology of Major Events,” “A Glossary of Terms,” and “A Select Bibliography,” the last over forty pages).

The thematic approaches developed in The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks include: A group of eight studies under the section titled “Historical Overview, Documentation, Interpretation;” and two more in a section titled “Representations and Law,” one of which outlines Lemkin’s studies of the Christian genocide based on his personal archive. In addition there are sections titled “Genocide Education,” “Memorialization,” and “Conceptualization,” which include studies exploring, a) an outline syllabus for the teaching of the Greek genocide on the secondary level in the US (in Chicago), b) the erection of monuments in Greece commemorating the loss of life and homelands, c) the role of genocide in the creation of nationality, and d) a critical approach in the use of photographic evidence for the study of the genocide of the Christian peoples in what is now the space occupied by the Turkish Republic.

Publication Information:
Title: The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks
Studies on the State–Sponsored Campaign of Extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor (1912-1922) and Its Aftermath: History, Law, Memory
Edited by Tessa Hofmann, Matthias Bjørnlund and Vasileios Meichanetsidis
Publisher: Aristide D. Caratzas/Melissa International Ltd.
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Hardcover xii+508 pages, 37 photographs, maps (including a foldout)
ISBN 978-0-89241-615-8
Price: US$75.00


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February 28th, 2012 by Fr. Greg


In the past few days we have had the deaths of three prominent people – Christopher Hitchens, Kim Jong Il, and Vaclav Havel.  All will be remembered, for different reasons.  I am out of gas – more tomorrow…

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December 18th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Return Of Churches

Return of Relics
ANCA HomeLearn About the BillSpread the WordTake Action

Yerazgavors (Shirakavan)

Sourb Prkich (Holy Saviour) Church (9th cent.), photo 1900s to 1910s; The remnants after the acts of explosion and destruction carried out between the 1950s and 1960s, photo by Samvel Karapetian, 07.21.2006.

U.S. House Set to Vote on Return of Churches Resolution (H.Res. 306) on Tues. Dec. 13th

H.Res.306, which was introduced by Reps. Royce (R-CA) and Howard Berman (D-CA), has been scheduled for a vote on December 14th by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) under a special parliamentary procedure known as the Suspension Calendar.

This resolution calls upon Turkey to return stolen Christian churches to the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian and Syriac communities and to end discrimination against surviving Christians.

The text of the resolution that will come before the House will be same as the abridged version adopted 43 to 1 by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 20th of this year.

You can watch the House Foreign Affairs Committee passage of the Return of Churches amendment online on the ANCA Vimeo Channel.

Fact Sheets on the “Return of Churches” Resolution

** Why pass H.Res.306 – the “Return of Churches” resolution.
** Myths and Facts: Turkey’s Troubling Record of Restricting Religious Freedom
** Early Christianity in the Lands of Present-Day Turkey
** Setting the Record Straight: A point-by-point rebuttal to the Turkish Embassy’s attack on H.Res.306

Additional resources are provided on the “For Media” and “For Hill Staff” pages.



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December 15th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

From Nina Shea

I have posted stuff from Nina Shea before – she writes tirelessly about Christian minorities throughout the world.  Here is a scary round-up of recent events in Pakistan.

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December 4th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Greek Historian Discusses Assyrian Genocide

GMT 3-19-2011 19:10:6
Assyrian International News Agency

On behalf of Seyfo Center, Joseph Haweil sat down with Greek historian and researcher Stavros T. Stavridis to talk about the Assyrian Genocide and the worldwide movement for its recognition by the Republic of Turkey. Born to Greek parents in Cairo Egypt in 1949, Mr. Stavridis migrated to Australia with his parents in 1952. He took his BA from Deakin University having majored in political science and economic history. Between 1993-1998, Mr. Stavridis undertook a Masters program at Melbourne’s RMIT University.

His dissertation entitled The Greek-Turkish War 1919-23: An Australian Press Perspective was published by Gorgias Press in 2009. He has taught at both TAFE and University levels both in Australia and the United States, teaching a variety of subjects including economics, sociology, urban and business studies and Greek history. Mr. Stavridis’ latest publication is entitled The Assyrians in Australian Archives: Documents from the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial, 1914-1947 (co-authored with David Chibo) and is available through Gorgias Press.

When did you initially learn of the Assyrian Genocide and what sparked your interest in writing about it?

I learned about the Assyrians through passing references in British Foreign Office documents when I was writing my Honours and Masters Dissertations without giving it too much thought. What sparked my interest? In September 1999, I presented a paper at a genocide conference in Sydney about the Greeks of Asia Minor and it was here where I learned about the existence of an Assyrian Genocide. A Greek friend of mine in Sydney invited me in early 2000 to present a paper at an Assyrian conference that was staged at the University of Sydney in July of that year. I told him that I knew nothing about the Assyrians other than the introduction I had in September 1999. I presented my paper and the rest is history. Wilfred Bet-Alkhas” e-magazine Zinda proved a wonderful vehicle to publish my works on the Assyrians. Do you consider the genocides of the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks to be one genocide? If yes, how best can these three communities work together towards recognition?

Each community regards its own genocide as a unique event. The genocides of the Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians should be considered as a single event as each group suffered at the hands of the Ottoman Turks and Turkish nationalists led by Mustapha Kemal during the years 1914-1918 and 1919-23 respectively. The Young Turks and Kemalists were determined to drive all the Christians out of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and establish a state only for the Turks. I believe it is important that the 3 groups set aside their differences and work together as a united group in pushing for genocide recognition. How can this be achieved? This is an interesting question where I will offer three suggestions. Firstly, academic conferences should be arranged inviting top Assyrian, Greek and Armenian genocide scholars to present conference papers with the conference proceedings published either online or in book form. There is also a need to increase the rate of scholarly p ublications on the Greek and Assyrian Genocides which is seriously lacking. Armenian scholars receive generous funding through their community organizations or from wealthy Armenians to produce serious academic works regarding their Genocide. The Armenians have established research centres in North America to continue research into their Genocide and also host academic conferences. This is something that both the Greeks and Assyrians can adopt from our Armenian friends. Secondly, the Diaspora communities can form combined committees to lobby politicians and use the media to publicize the three Genocides to the non-Assyrian, Greek and Armenian audiences in their adopted homelands. Finally, we could learn from the Jewish community in our adopted homelands of how to establish our own combined genocide museums e.g. in New York or Sydney. In the face of intense ongoing Turkish denial, what approach should the Assyrian Diaspora take in working towards recognition?

The Assyrian Diaspora should operate on two levels towards genocide recognition. Assyrian organizations should work on a national and international level to publicize the genocide through media campaigns, letter writing campaigns to major newspapers, insertion of single page advertisement of Assyrian Martyrs Day in major newspapers and lobbying important politicians in adopted homelands. At an international level, Assyrian organizations should use the fora of the United Nations and its relevant agencies as well as the European Union to publicize its Genocide. It is also important to engage a public relations firm to help “promote” the Assyrian Genocide to the international community. The issue of reparations remains a contentious one. Do you think a demand for reparations by the victims should be part of the genocide recognition dialogue?

Reparations could form part of the genocide recognition dialogue with Turkey. However this will depend on whether any Assyrians had purchased insurance policies or held bank accounts and title deeds to family property during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenians have filed law suits against New York Life Insurance, Axa Insurance and Deutsche Bank trying to recover monies of their dead ancestors. So far New York Life and Axa have compensated Armenian descendants. Assyrian activists, like their Armenian counterparts, have sought to pressure Turkey by gaining recognition of the genocide by countries around the world. Do you think this approach is beneficial?

I find this a very good approach in gaining recognition by countries. It is a step-by-step approach which will yield results in time as more countries come to understand and recognize the Assyrian Genocide. As they say “Rome was not built in a day.” As I said, a step-by-step approach will win out in the long run. In light of ongoing persecution of Assyrians in the Middle East, what some have deemed modern-day genocide, some argue that focusing on Assyrian Genocide recognition redirects valuable time and resources away from addressing the current persecution. What is your response to this view?

Assyrians can focus on the current Middle East situation without taking an eye off the past. I hope that the Assyrians can use their present persecution to tell the international community that their suffering has continued almost non-stop from the early 20th century. It is important that the victims of the First World War are not forgotten and their memories are preserved for future generations. What is the likelihood of genocide recognition by the Republic of Turkey in the next decade?

The possibility of genocide recognition by Turkey within the next decade is difficult to predict. However I see some “hopeful” signs with the Armenian Genocide being openly discussed in Turkey which was a taboo subject not that many years ago. There are some brave Turkish scholars and journalists who have had the courage to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. I believe that the Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians have to engage with Turks who acknowledge our Genocides both inside and outside Turkey.

By Joseph Haweil

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March 22nd, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Christians In Egypt Protecting Muslims From Attacks During Prayers

Thanks to George Stifo for the image and title.

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February 3rd, 2011 by Fr. Greg

A New Country?

Amir Taheri breaks down the situation in southern Sudan here.  This part of the Sudan has never gotten the same sort of mainstream news coverage that Darfur has, and certainly has not received the same celebrity attention.  It may have something to do with with the religious make-up of the areas – southern Sudan being largely Christian and animist, Darfur being majority Muslim, but I really have no idea.  Perhaps, as Taheri touches on, there is no convenient name for southern Sudan beyond, well, southern Sudan, whereas Darfur lends itself nicely to media.  In any case, it is a good read.  The situation in both areas deserves our attentiveness and prayers.

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January 7th, 2011 by Fr. Greg