May 19 is the Greek national day of remembrance of the Pontian Genocide, the systematic killing of the Christian Greek, Armenians and Assyrians population carried out in Anatolia between 1913- 1922.
Already, the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution in 2007 recognizing the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire (Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians) as Genocide. Many States worldwide have recently fully recognized the Greek Genocide in Pontus such as Greece, Cyprus, France (2001), Sweden (2010), Armenia (2015), Netherlands (2015), Austria (2015), USA (2019), Germany (2016), Czech Republic (2017), Italy (2019).
However, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe have not made yet any related official statements, despite the fact that Europe aspires to play a primary role in the field of Human Rights Protection worldwide.
For these reasons, the Greek Member of the European Parliament Emmanouil Fragkoulis asked the three EU’Presidents Von Der Leyen (European Commission), Charles Michel (European Council) and David Sassoli (European Parliament) to to issue a common European Statement recognizing the killings of Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians as Genocide and to set 19th of May as a European Day for an annual commemoration.
What is the Pontic Genocide?
The Pontic Genocide cost 353,000 lives, while even more lost their homes and generations of wealth in the Pontus (Black Sea) region, and then were forced to emigrate to other places to begin their lives all over again. The persecution of the Pontic population, along with other Christian Greeks living n Ottoman lands, began in 1908, when the Young Turk movement, led by the hardcore nationalist party, launched a brutal campaign against the thriving Christian communities there. The nationalists soon started a campaign for the Turkification of the region. The Turks, on the pretext of “national security,” displaced most of the Greek population by burning entire villages, slaying those who resisted and chasing them off their ancestral lands. The men who were displaced then were given two choices: Either to join the Turkish Army or go by force to the so called labor-battalions.
On May 19, 1919, Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the nationalists, landed in Samsun to begin the second, even more brutal phase of the Pontic Genocide. And he did so with the guidance of German and Soviet advisers. By the time of the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, the number of Pontians who died had exceeded 200,000; some historians put the figure at 353,000.
Those who escaped the Turkish sword fled as refugees to southern Russia and made their new homes there. After the end of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), most of the Pontian Greeks remaining in Ottoman land were transported to Greece under the terms of the 1923 Population Exchange between Greece and Turkey. Their number is estimated to be 400,000.