Δευτέρα, 20 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

Το ζήτημα της Γενοκτονίας στη Γερουσία του Καναδά


Εφημερίδα ΕΘΝΟΣ 20 Φεβρουαρίου 2017 
ΛΕΟ ΧΟΥΣΑΚΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΝΑ ΜΕΡΤΣΑΝΤ


Πώς φέραμε τη Γενοκτονία των Ποντίων στην καναδική ΓερουσίαΜετά την Ελλάδα, τη Σουηδία, την Αρμενία, την Ολλανδία και την Αυστρία η Βουλή του Καναδά βρίσκεται στο κατώφλι μιας ιστορικής απόφασης: της αναγνώρισης της Γενοκτονίας των Ποντίων.Η ελληνική φλέβα είναι δυνατή και πάντα νιώθω την υποχρέωση να υπερασπίζομαι τα εθνικά μας θέματα, τονίζει ο γερουσιαστής με καταγωγή από τη Μάνη, Λέο Χουσάκος. 

Στη φωτογραφία πάνω, με τη σύζυγό του και τους γονείς του.
Τη σχετική συζήτηση ξεκίνησαν δύο γερουσιαστές ελληνικής καταγωγής - η Πάνα Μέρτσαντ των Φιλελευθέρων και ο Λέο (Λεωνίδας) Χουσάκος των Συντηρητικών.Η 73χρονη Πάνα Μέρτσαντ ήταν η πρώτη από τους δύο γερουσιαστές που εισήγαγε το θέμα στην καναδική Γερουσία στις 6 Φεβρουαρίου. Το πλήρες όνομά της πριν παντρευτεί τον δικηγόρο Τόνι Μέρτσαντ ήταν Παναγιώτα Παπαγεωργίου. Ο πατέρας της, Ιωάννης Παπαγεωργίου, έζησε στη Σμύρνη μέχρι τα οκτώ του χρόνια.«Είδε την οικογένειά του να ξεριζώνεται βίαια και να χωρίζεται. Αυτός μαζί με τη μητέρα του και τις δύο μικρότερες αδελφές του κατάφεραν να επιβιβαστούν σε ένα πλοίο. Η τρίτη κόρη της οικογένειας χάθηκε μέσα στον πανικό και κανείς δεν έμαθε τι απέγινε. Κατάφερε να ξεφύγει; Πνίγηκε; Εμεινε πίσω;»...


Η Πάνα Μέρτσαντ
Σε μια αποθήκηΜε αυτά τα λόγια η γερουσιαστής περιέγραψε ενώπιον της καναδικής Γερουσίας την προσωπική δραματική της ιστορία. Η οικογένειά της κατέληξε σε μια αποθήκη στην Αθήνα, προσπαθώντας να επιβιώσει  και όπως είπε στο «Εθνος», ο πατέρας αναγκάστηκε να κάνει διάφορες δουλειές, αφήνοντας πίσω την άνετη ζωή στη Σμύρνη...«Εγώ κατάγομαι από τη Μάνη», λέει στο «Εθνος» ο Λέο Χουσάκος. «Εμείς δεν είχαμε τέτοιες δυσκολίες με τους Τούρκους εκείνες τις εποχές. Αλλά δεν παύω να είμαι Ελληνας. Γεννήθηκα στον Καναδά, αλλά η ελληνική φλέβα είναι δυνατή και πάντα νιώθω την υποχρέωση να υπερασπίζομαι τα εθνικά μας θέματα σε όποιο σημείο της Γης κι αν βρεθώ». Για κάποιον που γεννήθηκε στον Καναδά μιλά άψογα τα Ελληνικά.Η ελληνική φλέβα είναι δυνατή και πάντα νιώθω την υποχρέωση να υπερασπίζομαι τα εθνικά μας θέματα, τονίζει ο γερουσιαστής με καταγωγή από τη Μάνη, Λέο Χουσάκος. «Στο Μόντρεαλ η ελληνική παροικία και η ελληνική γλώσσα είναι αρκετά δυνατές. Εχουμε έξι δημοτικά σχολεία και τώρα χτίζουμε και ένα ελληνικό γυμνάσιο.Η επαρχία του Κεμπέκ είναι μια περιοχή όπου ομιλούνται δύο γλώσσες, τα Αγγλικά και τα Γαλλικά. Οταν μαθαίνεις δύο τι είναι ακόμα μία παραπάνω; Τα Ελληνικά είναι η πιο πλούσια γλώσσα στον κόσμο. Αν τη γνωρίζεις, σε διευκολύνει σε οποιοδήποτε επάγγελμα κάνεις στη ζωή σου».Οι γονείς του ήρθαν στον Καναδά τη δεκαετία του ’50 και έκαναν διάφορες δουλειές για να ζήσουν: «Δούλεψαν σκληρά για να επιβιώσουν σε αυτήν τη χώρα, χωρίς να ξεχάσουν ποτέ την πατρίδα. Ο πατέρας μου δούλευε καθαριστής, οτιδήποτε μπορείς να φανταστείς. Η μητέρα μου στα εργοστάσια κατασκευής ρούχων. Κανείς δεν ήρθε από την Ελλάδα στον Καναδά για το κλίμα», λέει χαριτολογώντας...
Οι εισηγήσειςΟι δύο γερουσιαστές έχουν εισηγηθεί την αναγνώριση της Γενοκτονίας των Ποντίων και η σχετική συζήτηση αναμένεται να καταλήξει σε ένα νομοσχέδιο, το οποίο θα περιλαμβάνει δύο άξονες: ο πρώτος θα είναι η αναγνώριση της Γενοκτονίας των Ποντίων Ελλήνων από το 1916 έως το 1923 και να καταδικάσουν κάθε απόπειρα άρνησης ή παραποίησης αυτής της ιστορικής αλήθειας, το ότι δηλαδή αποτελεί γενοκτονία και έγκλημα εναντίον της ανθρωπότητας.Την πρωτοβουλία για την αναγνώριση της γενοκτονίας των Ποντίων ξεκίνησε στις 6 Φεβρουαρίου στη Γερουσία του Καναδά η γερουσιαστής Πάνα Μέρτσαντ, της οποίας ο πατέρας και η οικογένειά του ξεριζώθηκαν από τη ΣμύρνηΤην πρωτοβουλία για την αναγνώριση της γενοκτονίας των Ποντίων ξεκίνησε στις 6 Φεβρουαρίου στη Γερουσία του Καναδά η γερουσιαστής Πάνα Μέρτσαντ, της οποίας ο πατέρας και η οικογένειά του ξεριζώθηκαν αΟ δεύτερος άξονας θα είναι ο ορισμός στον Καναδά της 19ης Μαΐου ως ημέρας μνήμης για τους πάνω από 353.000 Ελληνες του Πόντου «που σκοτώθηκαν ή εκδιώχθηκαν από τα σπίτια τους», όπως αναφέρει χαρακτηριστικά η εισήγηση του Λέο Χουσάκου.
ΓΕΡΟΥΣΙΑΣΤΗΣ ΛΕΟ ΧΟΥΣΑΚΟΣ:Είμαστε παιδιά μεταναστών, δεν ξεχνάμε τους πρόσφυγες«Η εμπειρία μας ως μεταναστών μάς ευαισθητοποιεί για το θέμα των προσφύγων» λέει στο «Εθνος» ο 49χρονος Λέο Χουσάκος. «Εγώ γεννήθηκα στον Καναδά επειδή οι γονείς μου τον διάλεξαν ως χώρα υποδοχής. Είχαν ωστόσο εναλλακτική επιλογή -να πάνε στην Αμερική ή στην Αυστραλία. Οι μετανάστες έχουν προσφέρει τρομερές θυσίες κι έχουν δημιουργήσει τις βάσεις για να φτάσει ο Καναδάς στο επίπεδο ανάπτυξης και ευημερίας που βρίσκεται σήμερα. Και είμαι υπερήφανος που με διόρισε ο πρωθυπουργός πρόεδρο της Γερουσίας και ήμουν ο πρώτος επικεφαλής του Κοινοβουλίου που δεν είχε αγγλική ή γαλλική καταγωγή».«Η ατέλειωτη ροή προσφύγων και οικονομικών μεταναστών από τη Μέση Ανατολή και τη Βόρεια Αφρική στα ελληνικά νησιά το 2015 και 2016 και η αξιοσημείωτη φιλοξενία και η έλλειψη εχθρότητας από τον ελληνικό λαό, η ελληνική ''φιλοξενία'', κέρδισαν ευρύτερη απήχηση και τους επαίνους όλων των πολιτών του κόσμου» συμπληρώνει η Πάνα Μέρτσαντ. Παράλληλα, ο Λέο Χουσάκος μάς δίνει μια διάσταση της σημερινής αξίας της αναγνώρισης της γενοκτονίας των Ποντίων: «Για μας είναι σημαντικό να μην ξεχάσουμε αυτά τα γεγονότα, γιατί στη σημερινή εποχή έχουμε πολλούς χριστιανούς που απειλούνται με εκδίωξη από τα σπίτια τους στον κόσμο, όπως συμβαίνει στη Συρία. Αλλά είναι πολύ σημαντικό μάθημα σεβασμού της διαφορετικής κουλτούρας του άλλου σε μια πολυπολιτισμική κοινωνία όπως ο Καναδάς».


Ο πατέρας της Π. Μέρτσαντ 
Η αντίδραση της Τουρκίας Μιλώντας για την αντίδραση της Τουρκίας, ο γερουσιαστής προσθέτει: «Οι αντιδράσεις από τουρκικής πλευράς θα είναι οι ίδιες με αυτές που βλέπουμε τώρα: βομβαρδίζουν τους συνάδελφους μας με e-mails, γράμματα και επιστολές που διαστρεβλώνουν τα ιστορικά γεγονότα. Δυστυχώς αυτή είναι η επιλογή που έχουν κάνει, αντί να παραδεχτούν ένα ιστορικό γεγονός όπως κάνουν όλες οι δημοκρατικές χώρες».ΘΑΝΑΣΗΣ ΔΙΑΜΑΝΤΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ
Υ.Γ. Αυτό που περιγράφεται στο τελευταίο κομμάτι του άρθρου το γνωρίζω προσωπικώς, όταν βρέθηκα για το ζήτημα στον Καναδά, συμπεριλαμβανομένου ότι  τα ψεύδη και η υπονόμευση ήρθαν και από την  Ελλάδα..... 



Η εισήγηση του Λ. Χουσάκου στη Γερουσία του Καναδά


The Senate

Motion to Call Upon the Government to Recognize the Genocide of the Pontic Greeks and Designate May 19th as a Day of Remembrance—Debate Continued

On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Merchant, seconded by the Honourable Senator Housakos:
That the Senate call upon the government of Canada:
(a) to recognize the genocide of the Pontic Greeks of 1916 to 1923 and to condemn any attempt to deny or distort a historical truth as being anything less than genocide, a crime against humanity; and
(b) to designate May 19th of every year hereafter throughout Canada as a day of remembrance of the over 353,000 Pontic Greeks who were killed or expelled from their homes.
Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I'm honoured to rise today to second the motion of my colleague Senator Merchant, calling on the Parliament of Canada to recognize the Christian Pontian Genocide. Colleagues, I ask you to consider the following from the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers:
They began singling out all able-bodied Greek men, forcibly conscripting them into labor battalions which performed slave labor for the Turkish war effort. Greek children were stolen and forcibly assimilated into Turkish society. Greek villages were brutally plundered and terrorized under the pretext of internal security. Indeed, as with the Armenians, the Greeks were generally accused as a disloyal and traitorous "fifth-column," and eventually most of the population was rounded up and forcibly deported to the interior.
There is no doubt the actions I've just described to you fit the legal definition of genocide as it appears in Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Indeed, those same actions against Armenians have been recognized as genocide both domestically and internationally.
However, while the Armenian genocide is widely known and acknowledged, the Pontian Genocide, which occurred concurrently, remains obscure. It is high time for that to change here in Canada, as it has in other jurisdictions.
Professor André Gerolymatos from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University had this to say of both the Armenian and Pontic genocides:
The Ottoman genocide of the Armenians and Pontic Greek Orthodox was aimed specifically at Christian minorities in an effort to create an ethnically cleansed state.
Prior to the First World War, as their ancestors had for millennia, 700,000 Greek Orthodox lived in the Black Sea region of the Ottoman Empire, otherwise known as Pontos.
During the war, the government of the Ottoman Empire embarked on a course of reprehensible actions that led to the genocide of the Pontians, as they did with Armenians.
As Mr. Gerolymatos states, the genocide was:
. . . conducted sadistically, to instill terror in the minds of the surviving minorities in the Ottoman Empire. . . . The genocide included: mass rape, wonton destruction, torture for the sake of torture, regardless of gender and age; children raped, often in front of their parents, before the entire family was put to death.
Husbands, wives and children were often brutally tortured prior to execution.
As was the case of the Armenians, the Ottoman regime carried out these efforts to extinguish the Pontian Greeks in stages.
At the outset of the First World War, as was the case with the Armenians, Greek Orthodox Pontic men were forced into the Turkish interior to work in labour battalions.
In January of 1916, U.S. Consul General in the Near East, George Hutton, described the start of the deportations of the Greek Orthodox Pontians from the Black Sea in a report, where he wrote:
These unfortunate human beings came through the city of Marsovan by thousands, walking for the most part during the three-days' journey through the snow and mud.
[As intended by the Ottoman authorities] thousands fell by the wayside from exhaustion. [They came into the city] always under escort of Turkish gendarmes.
By November 1916, the Austrian Council reported that Rafet Bey, a senior Ottoman official, had told him: "We must at last do with the Greeks as we did with the Armenians. . ."
Where there was a deviation from the treatment of the Armenians to that of the Pontians was a change in tactics. It seems the Ottomans had learned from the international outrage over their actions against the Armenians. Tragically, the lesson was not one of restraint but rather one of learning to carry out the atrocities away from prying eyes.
In his report, U.S. Consul General Hutton described the treatment of the Pontians as: " . . . even more radical than a straight massacre, as such the Armenians suffered before."
The following year, like Hutton before him, Austrian Chancellor Hollweg also noted that the Ottomans had changed the tactics employed in exterminating Armenians and were instead forcing the Pontians to the interior to allow them to be killed without attention from the outside world.
And the Ottomans succeeded, killing a significant portion of the Pontic people. The body count of the genocide of the Greek Orthodox Pontians was over 350,000 men, women and children. Three hundred and fifty thousand people out of 700,000 — half the population — exterminated.
We must be clear that this is a tragic fate — a genocide. Not only have the ghosts of the Pontic Greek Orthodox earned the right to confront their murderers, but to paraphrase the words of a wise man, those who forget the tragedies of the past are doomed to repeat them in the future. And indeed, the world chose to ignore the genocide of Armenians and Pontians, and we were forced to confront the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews as a result. We ignored Rwanda and are now dealing with genocides like that of the Yazidis being carried out by ISIS.
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In asking Parliament to recognize the Pontian genocide, we aren't asking Canada or Canadians to sit in judgment of others, and we aren't seeking to undo actions of the past.
On the contrary, it is about acknowledging, and healing and educating, and in so doing preventing such atrocities from happening again.
Being the upper chamber of Parliament, the Senate of Canada is ideally situated for leading the way in taking a principled stand in recognizing the Christian Pontian genocide.
As the independent house of Parliament, we are less influenced by or beholden to political expediency. The Senate can and must lead the way for the Parliament of Canada as a whole in taking a just position on this important matter.
Recognition of this genocide is not an attempt at retribution but rather an acknowledgment of undeniable historical facts that is a crucial first step in true reconciliation.
This is certainly true for nations that want to be accepted as modern-day democracies. There is perhaps no greater example of this than modern-day Germany.
Imagine Germany's place in the world today had they not acknowledged the atrocities that were committed by their Nazi predecessors. Recognizing and taking responsibility for dark chapters in our history is not about judgment or punishment. And it's not about trying to undo that which cannot be undone. It is about reconciliation.
With our own history of residential schools, Canada knows that all too well. On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the other place, the House of Commons, and said the following:
The government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation. Therefore, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to Aboriginal peoples for Canada's role in the Indian Residential Schools system.
While Mr. Harper and his government did not directly have a hand in inflicting this terrible tragedy upon our First Nations, they did recognize it was time for the Government of Canada, the Parliament to Canada to take responsibility.
Prime Minister Harper went on to say: "The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government and as a country."
That historical acknowledgment and apology paved the way for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was struck in 2009 and chaired by our honourable colleague Senator Murray Sinclair.
The commission provided a road map to reconciliation between Canada and her First Nations that was forthright in its assessment of what was done to Canada's indigenous people for generations.
While these things may have been difficult for us to hear and to take responsibility for, we had no choice but to do so in order to move forward. Admitting to wrongdoing sometimes takes courage and strength, but it shows a willingness to learn from one's failures.
Dark, ugly chapters in our history cannot be denied, especially if, as a nation, one wants to remain worthy of one's place in the world, as did Germany, for example.
Modern-day Turkey's unwillingness to even recognize the Christian genocides of the Armenians, the Assyrians and the Pontians is not becoming of the significant status they enjoy in the international community.
But colleagues, even if Turkey itself will not recognize these genocides, we as parliamentarians, and more importantly as Canadians, must stand up and be counted in denouncing genocide, past and present.
Just as we acknowledged our own dark history, we must now recognize the genocide of the Pontian Christian Greeks. As parliamentarians, we must join with our international counterparts, like Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and the United States, states like Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and even here at home, municipalities like Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, in recognizing the actions of the Ottoman Empire against the Pontians as genocide. Thank you, colleagues.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Housakos: It would be my pleasure, senator.
Senator Cools: I wonder if the honourable senator could tell us what does "recognize genocide" mean?
Senator Housakos: Recognizing the historical facts that have occurred that have been highlighted by historians over the decades, historical documented evidence by first-hand sources at the time, like the Consul General of the United States, the High Commissioner of Austria, who were there and witnessed many of these atrocities. And of course clearly, if you look at the definition as I highlighted in my speech and the United Nations' definition of genocide, based on the evidence that we have, I think clearly indicates that this has to be a recognized genocide. No more, no less as this Parliament has done, senator, and I think you were there when it happened —
Senator Cools: I was.
Senator Housakos: I agree, and I expect to do the same now on the same basis, but under the same principles as we did a few years when we recognized the Armenian genocide, this happened at the same time. It was a concurrent genocide, carried out by the same perpetrators for the same reasons, and I think it would be noble for Canada to follow in the footsteps of other great parliaments in recognizing this atrocity.
Senator Cools: Could the honourable senator explain what he means when he says "the Ottomans"? You frequently said in your speech "the Ottomans." Could you tell us who "the Ottomans" are? It's like saying "the Americans." Who are the Ottomans?
Senator Housakos: The Ottomans are, of course —
Senator Cools: Tell us clearly.
Senator Housakos: The Ottoman Empire I think is one of the great empires in the history of mankind that conquered and was the empire in charge of the Balkans and a great chunk of the Middle East for a long period of time. Obviously it's modern-day Turkey today, Senator Cools.
I believe no one will question the existence of the Ottoman Empire, the centuries upon which, of course, they were a very powerful empire, and nobody will question the territory they occupied during that period of time. And they were an occupying force at that particular period of time in an area in Pontus, by the way, where the Pontian Greeks were citizens of that area for centuries. There's no doubt that they also existed there for centuries.
Senator Cools: But you did not say "the Ottoman Empire." You said "the Ottomans." I wish you would be clear because I think we tend to learn better when we take in accurate information.
Senator Housakos: I apologize if I was not clear, but when I referred to the Ottomans, I refer to the Ottoman Empire.
Senator Cools: I see. I wonder if you could tell me in the motion that the Senate call on the Government of Canada to recognize the genocide of the Pontic Greeks of 1916-23, and to condemn any attempt to deny or distort a historical truth as being anything less than genocide, a crime against humanity.
Where does the power of the Senate come to condemn any statement that anybody makes that disagrees with the proposition? Where does that power come to condemn people like that? This is not a firing squad, this is not an execution group here. This is a debating chamber. These historical facts have to be established. You're asking the Senate to condemn anybody who even questions a historical fact. You haven't yet proven that it's a historical fact — your facts are historical facts.
Senator Housakos: Senator Cools, I would challenge you at any time to find any credible academics who will challenge the veracity of the facts that during that period of time Armenians were massacred, Assyrians were massacred and Greek Orthodox people were massacred in that particular area of the world because of an attempt on the part of the Ottoman Empire to cleanse that territory which, by the way, they historically effectively did. They cleansed that area out of millions of Christian people who were occupying that area. That is a historical fact and, again, it's a historical fact that this Parliament was compelled enough to recognize the Armenian genocide both in the House of Commons and in the Senate of Canada and by the Government of Canada.
Again, there is no credible historian who will question that the Assyrians and the Pontians concurrently were facing the same fate as the Armenians were during that period of time.
Now in terms of the mandate of this chamber, this is the upper chamber of the Parliament of Canada. We speak I think with a lot of authority when we move motions, when we move bills, when it comes to areas of principle. So we can condemn any actions, any behaviour that we think is not becoming of our values and principles in the democracy that we live in as Canadians. I think each and every one of us as senators has the right to stand up and defend those values, and of course we can ask our colleagues who want to support those values to engage with us in doing so. And of course in a democracy like ours, senator, you also have the right to have a contrarian view, which I welcome, and despite the fact we don't see eye to eye on this, I do appreciate your —
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Senator Cools: You are saying we don't see eye to eye.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, Senator Cools, please. We have a process here for asking questions. I don't believe Senator Housakos is finished yet.
Senator Cools: But, Your Honour, accusatory statements —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, please.
Senator Housakos, have you finished your answer?
Senator Housakos: I have.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cools, do you wish to ask another question?
Senator Cools: Well, I wanted to ask another question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Well, Senator Housakos's time has expired.
Senator Cools: I don't think, Senator Furey, there's a need for you to exert any energy on this. I was rising to move the adjournment of the debate.
(On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)


Η εισήγηση της Πάνα Μέρτσαντ



The Senate

Motion to Call Upon the Government to Recognize the Genocide of the Pontic Greeks and Designate May 19th as a Day of Remembrance—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Pana Merchant, pursuant to notice of December 14, 2016, moved:
That the Senate call upon the government of Canada:
(a) to recognize the genocide of the Pontic Greeks of 1916 to 1923 and to condemn any attempt to deny or distort a historical truth as being anything less than genocide, a crime against humanity; and
(b) to designate May 19th of every year hereafter throughout Canada as a day of remembrance of the over 353,000 Pontic Greeks who were killed or expelled from their homes.
She said: Honourable senators, 353,000 Pontian Greeks were reported killed in systematic massacres, persecutions and death marches between 1916 and 1923. Together, the Armenian, Assyrian, and Pontian genocide constituted the first massive genocide of the 20th century.
The defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 resulted in the sudden yielding of Turkish-dominated European territories.
The Ottomans implemented a program of deliberate and systematic expulsions and forcible migrations, focusing on Greeks of the Pontian region — that is, the Constantinople, Istanbul and Black Sea area, down the coast of Asia Minor; what is today Turkey — and Anatolia, with special organization units referred to as the Young Turks.
These units attacked Greek villages and intimidated its Greek inhabitants to abandon their ancestral homeland, to be replaced by Muslims.
The Greek presence in the Pontus region has been dated to at least the time of Homer, around 800 BC.
The geographer Strabo, born in 63 BC, referred to the city of Smyrna, today's Izmir, as the first Greek city in Asia Minor.
As a consequence of the policy of "Turkey for Turks," 3 million Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks were murdered, or were victims of the "white death," a term used to describe all deaths that resulted from lack of food, disease and exposure to the elements during deportations and death marches. The massive murders were followed by destruction of monuments, churches and homes, and the renaming of regions.
Before the creation of the word "genocide," the destruction of the Greeks was known as "the Massacre," "the Great Catastrophe" or "the Great Tragedy."
The term "genocide," from the Greek word genos, which means race, tribe, family, and the Latin word cida, to kill, was coined at the time of the Holocaust by Professor Raphael Lemkin of Duke University, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent whose work became the base of the terminology the United Nations used in 1948 to make the Convention on the Prosecution and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
In his writings on genocide, Lemkin is known to have detailed the fate of the Greeks and Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, their historic homeland, where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years before the Turkish invasions.
The New York Times of August 1946 informed:
The massacres of Greeks and Armenians by the Turks prompted diplomatic action without punishment. If Professor Lemkin has his way genocide will be established as an international crime.
Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide reads:
. . . any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Not one, but every one of these acts applies to the wrongs committed against the Pontian Greeks.
The Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University provides the following overview:
They began singling out all able-bodied Greek men, forcibly conscripting them into labor battalions which performed slave labor for the Turkish . . . society. Greek villages were brutally plundered and terrorized under the pretext of internal security. Indeed, as with the Armenians, the Greeks were generally accused as a disloyal and traitorous "fifth-column," and eventually most of the population was rounded up and forcibly deported to the interior.
[Translation]
Honourable senators, when the First World War broke out, Asia Minor was ethnically very diverse, and large Armenian, Greek and Syrian populations settled there. This led some Turks to believe that, in order to establish a modern nation-state, the ethnic groups that could threaten the integrity of a future modern Turkish state had to be eliminated.
For their part, the Pontian Greeks had managed to resist for many centuries the overwhelming pressure to convert to Islam. They had thus been able to keep alive their traditions, which were deeply rooted in religion, as well as their distinctive culture and language.
[English]
Professor Andre Gerolymatos, from the Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University, provides the following:
During the First World War, the Ottoman government, embarked on a course of reprehensible acts that led to the genocide of the Armenian and Pontic Greek Orthodox, conducted sadistically, to instill terror in the minds of the surviving minorities in the Ottoman Empire.
The genocide included: mass rape, wonton destruction, torture for the sake of torture, regardless of gender and age; children raped, often in front of their parents, before the entire family was put to death.
IAGS, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, voted overwhelmingly in 2007 for a resolution officially recognizing the Armenian genocide and ". . . qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire," including Pontian Greeks in the years between 1914 and 1923; and released supporting documentation detailing why they determined these actions constituted "genocide." IAGS President Gregory Stanton stated:
This resolution is one more repudiation by the world's leading genocide scholars of the Turkish government's ninety year denial of the Ottoman Empire's genocides against its Christian populations, including Assyrians, Greeks, and Armenians. The history of these genocides is clear, and there is no more excuse for the current Turkish government, which did not itself commit the crimes, to deny the facts. The current German government has forthrightly acknowledged the facts of the Holocaust. The Turkish government should learn from the German government's exemplary acknowledgment of Germany's past, so that Turkey can move forward to reconciliation with its neighbours.
[Translation]
It was a Canadian, IAGS member Adam Jones, who drafted the resolution. In a speech delivered to members of that association during their conference in Sarajevo in July 2007, Mr. Jones paid tribute to the efforts of representatives of the Greek and Assyrian communities, efforts that sought to draw public attention to the genocides inflicted on their respective populations and to call on the current Turkish government to recognize those genocides.
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Mr. Jones said that although the work of activists and scholars resulted in the widespread acceptance of the Armenian genocide, qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire were given very little recognition. The per capita killing of Assyrians and Pontian Greeks was equivalent in scale to the massacre of the Armenian population of the empire and involved much the same methods, including mass executions, death marches and starvation.
According to Mr. Jones:
The overwhelming backing given to this resolution by the world's leading genocide scholars organization will help to raise consciousness about the Assyrian and Greek genocides. It will also act as a powerful counter to those, especially in present-day Turkey, who still ignore or deny outright the genocides of the Ottoman Christian minorities.
[English]
The IAGS resolution decreed that "denial . . . is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators . . . and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides."
Diplomatic records and historical documents, such as those from German, Austrian and American consuls, the American ambassador to Turkey, the British Foreign Office, the Turkish Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior of the Prefect of Smyrna, the Austrian Chancellor Hollweg, all unequivocally confirm and corroborate that what took place was a systematic and deliberate extermination of the Pontic Hellenic population.
Terrorism, labour battalions, exiles, forced marches, rapes, hangings, fires and murders were planned, directed and executed by Turkish authorities.
Colleagues, contemporary witness accounts of deliberate and systematic Greek deportations and murders mandate action.
George Horton, U.S. Consul General in the Near East, wrote:
. . . from the Black Sea thousands fell by the wayside from exhaustion . . . walking for the three days journey through the snow and mud of the winter weather . . . . Others came in groups of fifty, one hundred and five hundred, always under escort of Turkish gendarmes. . . . a treatment more radical than a straight massacre such as the Armenians had suffered before.
The American Ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916, Henry Morganthau, who named the slaughter "murdering races" wrote:
The Armenians are not the only subject people in Turkey which have suffered from this policy of making Turkey exclusively the country of the Turks. . . . Indeed the Greeks were the first victims . . . .
A March 20, 1922, memorandum by George William Rendel of the British Foreign Office reads of "serious persecutions . . . affecting 30,000 Christians . . . but the worst atrocities undoubtedly took place in the Pontic region against the Greek population of the coastal towns."
A quote from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, in the Los Angeles Examiner of August 1, 1926, reads:
Those . . . left over from the former Young Turkish Party . . . should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven, en masse, from their homes and massacred . . . .
Honourable senators, a word that ignores the tragedies of the past is doomed to repeat them. It is important to recognize and remember this tragic chapter in our shared world history.
In reference to the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler queried: "Who, after all, speaks today of the . . . Armenians?"
The world chose to ignore the genocide of Armenians and Pontians, and as a result we had to confront the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews. We ignored Rwanda and now have to deal with small genocides implemented by ISIS.
In April 2015, on the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the Austrian government issued a statement recognizing "the victims of violence, murder and expulsion, including tens of thousands of other Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire, including Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Pontic Greeks."
Could I have five more minutes, please?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Merchant: Thank you, colleagues.
Some days later, the Vienna City Council issued a resolution recognizing the "victims of violence, slaughter and deportation, as well as the tens of thousands of Ottoman nationals of other groups of Christian peoples, including the Arameans, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Pontic Greeks."
The Swedish, Dutch and Armenian governments have also had the courage to acknowledge and recognize the Greek Pontian genocide. Many state governments have passed motions recognizing the killing of Pontic Greeks during this period as a genocide: Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina; and in Australia, New South Wales and South Australia. In Canada, the cities of Ottawa and Toronto have proclaimed May 19 as Greek Pontian Genocide Remembrance Day.
In September 1922, Turkish forces entered the ancient Greek city of Smyrna, instigating a massive anti-Greek pogrom. On September 13, a fire mysteriously broke out amidst the chaos, spreading without government control over the next two weeks. The Smyrna catastrophe took the lives is somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 Greeks and marked the symbolic end of the Greek genocide.
Honourable senators, there are 600,000 Canadians of Greek ancestry living in Canada. Many, like me, are the descendants of the survivors of the Pontian Greek genocide. Governance is not personal but is typical of all the wronged.
My own father, a six-year-old living in the Smyrna region, the ancient Greek city in Asia Minor, saw his family ruthlessly up rooted in the panic of the Smyrna inferno. The family became separated. He, along with his mother and two young sisters, managed to board a vessel to become refugees. A third young daughter strayed and disappeared in the sea of human horror. She was never found.
Had she managed to escape? Had she drowned? Was she left behind?
Colleagues, remembrance matters; recognition matters. The ghosts of those who suffered and perished have the right to closure and condemnation of these wrongs. I respectfully seek your support to join other nations and legislatively recognize and acknowledge this genocide and crime against humanity.
(On motion of Senator Housakos, debate adjourned.)

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