Bethnahrin National Council recalls Ottoman genocide of Pontic Greeks 

BETH NAHRIN — The Bethnahrin National Council (Mawtbo Umthoyo d’Bethnahrin, MUB) issued a statement marking the anniversary of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide  of the Pontic Greek people during the First World War.

The MUB statement recalled how the Ottoman authorities and the Committee of Union and Progress enacted a policy of extermination targeting the Pontic Greek peoples.

The genocide of the Pontic Greeks occurred in parallel to the genocides of the Armenian, Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean), and Greek peoples.

Throughout World War I, Ottoman forces committed mass atrocities against the Armenian, Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean), and Greek peoples. The killings were premeditated as indicated by a German military attaché to the Ottoman Empire who reported to Berlin that military official Ismail Enver, better known as Enver Pasha, wanted to “solve the Greek problem during the war … in the same way that he believes he solved the Armenian problem”.

The killing and forced displacement continued despite the end of the war in 1918.

On 19 May 1919, massacres were now visited on the Pontic Greeks. Carried out by official Tupal Osman,  hundreds of thousands were killed.

Bodies of killed Pontic Greek civilians.

In its statement, the MUB remarked that the systematic policy of extermination targeting the Pontic Greeks was a continuation of the genocide that took place against other Christian peoples in Ottoman territory in pursuit of a nationalist “one-language, one-nationality” ideology.

One hundred years later, the Turkish government continues to displace people, said the MUB, adding that only through reconciling the past and developing a democratic system based on multiculturalism can Turkey progress.

“We remember with great sadness the hundreds of thousands of Pontic Greeks who were killed. We denounce and condemn those who made the decision to exterminate them and who supported them and implemented the decision,” the statement concluded.

Also commemorating the day was Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Elpidophoros who took the occasion to announce the Third Centennial Pilgrimage to Pontos and Asia Minor, set to occur from 8–19 August 2022.

Pilgrims will attend the Divine Liturgy of Greek Orthodox Bartholomew on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos at Panagia Soumela Monastery.

The Turkish government only allows one religious service at the monastery per year. On 15 August, the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos or Feast of the Assumption, up to 500 worshipers are allowed to partake in a Divine Liturgy at the monastery’s church. A special pass issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is required.