The first part of the 20th century has been stigmatised by three major genocides: the Jewish, the Armenian and that of the Greeks of Pontus, Asia Minor and Thrace. However the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus has the following particularities. As opposed to the genocide of the Jews, the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and in particular the genocide of Pontus, a vast array of extermination methods were employed.(1) Also in Pontus, the genocide became a holocaust, in other words, this minority knowing full well the cruelty and satanism of the Turk, didn't transpire into an ‘easy' genocide. Στα Ελληνικά εδώ
COURTS OF INDEPENDENCE:
THE EXTERMINATION OF THE RELIGIOUS, INTELLECTUAL AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP OF THE GREEKS OF PONTUS
By ANASTASIA RENTOU
Translated from Greek to English
THE HISTORICAL LEADUP
The first part of the 20th century has been stigmatised by three major genocides: the Jewish, the Armenian and that of the Greeks of Pontus, Asia Minor and Thrace. However the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus has the following particularities. As opposed to the genocide of the Jews, the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and in particular the genocide of Pontus, a vast array of extermination methods were employed.(1) Also, the genocide in Pontus became a holocaust. In other words, this minority knowing full well the cruelty and satanism of the Turk, didn't transpire into an ‘easy' genocide. The Pontus Greeks resisted vigourously, and therefore the genocide eventuated into a holocaust. (2)
The undisputable crime of the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus took place between the years 1914 and 1923. The extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor was made official with the confidential documents of the Minister of Internal Affairs Talaat towards Vali's (prefectures) of Anatolia, the first victims being the Armenians: "There is to be a complete forfeit of the right in work and in general life of all Armenians living within the Turkish territory. The government has the complete and exclusive responsibility for this issue. Not even the children are to be excluded.".
Even more explicit was another written document which was saved in it's entirety to evidence this. . It was an order which was dispatched on the 14th of May 1914, undersigned by the Minister of Internal Affairs Talaat Pasha and the Director of of the same ministry Hilmi Bey. The objective now, wasn't the Armenians but the Greeks. In the meantime the Neo Turks had the following to say "The Greeks in many regions constitute the majority, which may turn out to be dangerous. They must be forced to abandon their homes and be transported to the prefecture of Erzerum, Erntitzan and elsewhere. . This is imposed for military but also political reasons. If they refuse to vacate their regions, give directives and use all means unbecoming".
In other parts of the document which gave ‘directives' on how the genocide would be accomplished, it was boldly stressed that: "Before they abandon their regions, force the Greeks to sign certificates in which they declare that they are abandoning their residences willingly, and at their own initiative. This is necessary, so that they don't have any political rights at a later date". (3)
Having taken into account therefore the likely repercussions from the International community, the Turks decided that by this means, they could cover up the crimes they were soon to commit..
THE CRIMES DURING THE GENOCIDE PERIOD
From 1914 onwards, there was a declaration for the mobilisation of Christians, which resulted in the "placement of Christians in separate unarmed military units, the "work battalions". The primary aim of these battalions was to do hard labour primarily in the building of roads and other such work, however the work continued only as far as the body and the mind allowed it to" (4). At the same, the death marches to the interior were initiated. The pretext used was that they were for superior military reasons. As a result they were termed the "white deaths". As the Metropolite Germanos Karavaggelis recounts "... after the extermination of the Armenians... the time now came for the Greeks. Since however the news of the deportations soon reached the European and American press... the Turks did not in the beginning dare to proceed with the massive slaughters, but continued with the deportations/white deaths (le massacre blanc). In 1916 the displacements of the Greeks began with its primary aim being death from hunger and hardship". The first phase of the genocide thus ceases with the end of the First World War, however the Kemalist period that began in 1919 and which signalled the arrival of Kemal Ataturk at the port of Samsunda (Samsun) on the 19th of May of the same year,(5) still proves to be harder and more inhumane. The slaughters henceforth become part of everyday routine, and the exiles continued.
In the period 1920-1921, Pontus is ravaged by death and despair to such a degree, the deportations and massacres having intensified to such a degree and with such intensity, that "the entire scheme of ethnic cleansing had openly taken the form of a complete genocide. It's important to note the fact that the crimes committed by the Turks between 1920-21, were admitted by seniors in the Ottoman Administration,who had direct knowledge of exactly what was happening in Pontus."(6)
The following reports paint a harrowing picture as to the dire seriousness during this time period:
"Throughout the entire Spring of 1920 the slaughters had become a daily occurrence".(7)
"On the 30th of April the Kemalists attacked the village Kioseli, in the province of Tokat. The leader of the large gang was Karamistich. This evil man was a convict in the prisons of Tokat, serving a life sentence. Along with 10 other criminals, he had been released 5 months earlier, by the direct command of Kemal Ataturk himself. The Kemalist powers have turned all their criminal towards the defenceless Greek villagers of the region".(8)
"Those unfortunate Greeks who in certain regions had survived the previous orders to leave their towns and villages, now found death in their own homes, where they were now being set upon by raging Kemalists."(9)
"On the15th of June 1921 the main executioner of the Pontian Greeks, Topal Osman invaded the villages of Erpaa, slaughtering the entire unarmed Greek population."(10)
"On that fateful summer, 5 groups of unarmed civilians departed on course to their eventual death, from Trapezounta and Kerasounta. Each group being marched out in long columns made up of 500 civilians each. Their destination was far away Malateia which was located in the interior of Anatolia, a place which they arrived at in December of 1921. Very few survived these death marches. In the same period, over 7000 Pontian Greeks had died of hunger and exposure in Harpout. A document which was sent to the Greek administration in Smyrna on the 30th of December of the same year (1921), made mention that the Labor Batallions had ended; of the 3000 Pontian Greek who were in Harpout, only 30 survived. And in Sebasteia, of the 8000 lives there, approximately 300 survived. A similar situation existed in the whole of Anatolia.".(11)
And while the population of Pontus was being massacred in numerous ways, the anti-Greek sentiment amongst the Turks who were perpetrating this crime was being supported by the religious, the intellectual and also the political leadership. George Kandilaptis-Kanis, a schoolteacher and journalist who lived through the tragic moments of the Genocide, recalls the following: "When the cowardly English and French troups abandoned Anatolia and the Greeks raised the blue and white flag at the bastions of Eski-Sehir and Ousakiou, the barbaric and dishonest Turkish Government began employing its centuries old program. That of the extermination of Anatolian Hellenism. It commenced the Independence Courts in Amaseia with the pretext of destroying the initiators of the Pontus question, but primarily its aim was to destroy the flourishing Greek communities of Pontus, in other words the tradesmen, the lawyers, the doctors, the pharmacists, school teachers, priests and journalists".(12)
to be continued....
(1) Tsirkinidis, Genocide p. 125
(2)Tsirkinidis, Genocide p68
(3) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.17
(4) Tsirkinidis, Genocide p.88
(5) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.25
(6) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.26
(7) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.27
(8) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.27
(9) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.28
(10) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.30
(11) Karkaletsis, The Pontian Freedom Fight p.32
(12) Kandilaptis, Miscellanies p.38-39
THE EXTERMINATION OF THE RELIGIOUS, INTELLECTUAL AND
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP OF THE GREEKS OF PONTUS
By ANASTASIA RENTOU
Translated from Greek to English by Pontosworld.com
PART 1 PART 2
THE COURTS OF INDEPENDENCE
CONSTITUTION: The Courts of Independence commenced for the second time in 1921 in the city of Amaseia, after they were originally enacted during the First World War and were suppressed following the Peace Treaty.1 Such Courts were also set up in Konya and Kastamonu but the harshest proved to be that of Amaseia.2 Court martials were originally handed down but seldom resulted in the death penalty. The somewhat soft sentencing of the courts martial came to a gradual end, the end result being these types of touring Courts of Independence. The Chairman of the court system was lawyer Emin Bey, who began immediately in implementing his work of extermination.3
AIM: They were extraordinary courts martial, which were targeted towards the extermination of eminent Pontic Greeks. The genocide was making news throughout the world so the Turks were keen to portray an element of legality with regards to the crimes they were committing on the Greeks of Pontus. Their plan was to use the formation of an Independent Hellenic Republic of Pontus, as a means to justify in advance, the execution of hundreds of leading Pontic Greek notables.4 "These so called Courts of Independence had no-one to check their decisions either with regards to the law, or as a means of initiating the cases. Their decisions were based on false accusations from sycophantic Turkish citizens who were influenced by Turkish officials to give evidence to support their extermination policy.5
LOCATION: The location chosen for the Courts of Independence was Amaseia. The choice of this city was not accidental. The location chosen for the 'trials' and the killings of the elite Greeks of Pontus had to be far from the large coastal cities, where all the consulates of foreign countries were located. Amaseia, the age old Greek city, and birthplace of Strabo the historian/geographer, was isolated in the interior of Pontus and surrounded by mountains, so it was an ideal place for crimes to be committed by the Kemalists towards the Greek inhabitants. Kemal Ataturk and his staff officers were mindful of the presence of witnesses, especially those from the Western world. However even if news of the mass murders of innocents was to filter out,6 the Turks were prepared to use the excuse of: secession activity at the expense of the Turkish homeland.7
JURIDICIAL PROCESS: The juridicial process used in the courts was concise and outside any set system of law. Elders, priests and tradesmen, in groups of ten, were presented in front of 'judges', with charges of secession action and betrayal brought up against them. Defence counsels were not present. On the other hand false witnesses were present and testified that they had seen the accused in the presence of Russian agents or Greek officers. Chief Judge Zate Ermin, one of Kemal Ataturk's most ruthless associates, shouted the names of defendants and swore at them in the courtroom. The accused were forbidden to defend themselves, and naturally were not represented by lawyers. On some occasions they were allowed to make a formal plea, however it was always followed by the eventual ruling of death by hanging.8 In some cases the courts didn't respect final decisions of some of the accused who had light sentences imposed on them, and brought them before the court room once again and sentenced them to death.9
COMMITTAL HEARINGS: The courts also had committal hearings not only of Greeks from Pontus but also Syrians, Arabs, Turks and Kurds.10 In regards to committal hearing of Greeks of Pontus, Valavanis in his book ‘The Modern General History of Pontus' reported the following cases: "At Kerasunta (Giresun), virtually all the community workers, tradesmen and scientists, and also members of Delegates for the Care of refugees, Orphanages, Fraternities etc.
From Erpaa - Hatzi Grigoris and Elefth. Chotsas.
From Hatzi Kioi - 5 town officials.
From Tokat - 7.people.
From Kavza - 54 people.
From Merzifounta (Merzifon) - the staff of the American College (Theoharidis, lecturer, Pavlidis, Lambrianos, a pedonomos and 2 students Nikloaidis and Pavlidis).
From Amaseia and Pafra - 91 people".11 And the list continues.
Due to its provisional abolishment (October 1921), those who were condemned but not hanged, weren't spared.12 Valavanis reports that: "On one night, 43 people from Kerasunta were exterminated on the order of Osman Aga, 6 of which were officials. Beside the Ak-Sou River on the same night they murdered 12 (people)". At the same time, surviving Greeks "were arriving at the court rooms on a daily basis after being coerced to transfer their property titles into the hands of Turks without any money changing hands."13
The touring Evangelist Father Prusseus made the following characteristic observation to these events following his visit to Pontus: "The city of Amaseia, home of the geographer of antiquity Strabo - played the biggest role in the Turkish brutality, known for its brilliant gardens, beautiful vineyards, its water works, its antiquity, etc it was the most beautiful and charming city of Pontus. But during the period of the Courts of Independence it changed so drastically and to the point that it looked like a necropolis, appearing wild and scary. Because everywhere, in all the Christian districts you could hear cries of lamenting and could see nothing else but people hanged in the streets, soldiers marching bound people to their death beds, and others to the Courts of Independence where they would be tried and murdered the following day. On one day, close to the government square - at a length from the banks of the Iris River, they murdered 70 condemned. The murdered officials, who were only from the coastal regions of Pontus, under this so called Court of Independence, amounted to 1500 men".14
1. Tsirkinidis. Genocide p.198
2. Prusseus, Aι περιπέτιαι της εξορίας μου, p.144
3. Psatha. Γη του Πόντου, p.307
4. Karkaletsis, Το ποντιακό αντάρτικο, p.34
5. Prusseus, Aι περιπέτιαι της εξορίας μου, p.144
6. Η είδηση της δολοφονίας της Ποντιακής ηγεσίας ευαισθητοποίησε την ελληνική και διεθνή κοινή γνώμη. Ιδιαίτερη σημασία η καταγγελία και το ψήφισμα διαμαρτυρίας των Eλλήνων διανοουμένων προς τους Ευρωπαίους συναδέλφους τους και τις κυβερνήσεις τους αφού«.... απηγχόνισαν εν Aμασεία 168 προκρίτους.....», υπόμνημα το οποίον υπέγραφαν οι Άννινος X., Aυγέρης M., Bλαχογιάννης I., Bώκος Γερ., Γρυπάρης I., Δούζας A., Δροσίνης Γ., Zάχος A., Θεοδωροπούλου Aύρα, Θεοτόκης K., Iακωβίδης Γ., Kαζαντζάκης N., Kαζαντζάκη Γαλ., Kαμπάνης Aρ., Kαμπούρογλους Δ., Kαρολίδης Π., Kόκκινος Δ., Kορομηλάς Γ., Mαλακάσης M., Mαλέας K., Mένανδρος Σ., Nικολούδης Θ., Nιρβάνας Π., Ξενόπουλος Γρ., Παλαμάς K., Παπαντωνίου Z., Παράσχος K., Πασαγιάννης K., Πολίτης Φ., Πωπ Γ., Σικελιανός Άγγ., Σκίπης Σ., Στρατήγης Γ., Tαγκόπουλος Δ.., Tσοκόπουλος Γ., Φυλλύρας P., Xατζιδάκις Γ., Xατζόπουλος Δ., Xορν Π., Σβορώνος
7. Karkaletsis, Το ποντιακό αντάρτικο, p.34
8. Karkaletsis, Το ποντιακό αντάρτικο, p.34
9. Psathas, Γη του Πόντου, p.307
10. Valavanis, Ιστορία, p.166
11. Valavanis, Ιστορία, pp.166-167
12. Valavanis, Ιστορία, p.168
13. Valavanis, Ιστορία, p.169
14. Prusseus, Aι περιπέτιαι της εξορίας μου, p.144