Pontic Greeks in Thessaloniki let 100 lanterns high into the night sky in order to commemorate the Genocide of Pontic Greeks first by the Young Turks and then by Kemalist forces. May 19th commemorates the beginning of the ethnic cleansing when the forces of the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk entered the city of Trabzon in 1919. Trabzon had mainly Pontic Greek population.
Descendants of the victims gathered at Aristotelous Square on Saturday night, and then walked in a commemoration march along the promenade. Short after midnight they let the lanterns illuminating the sky, chanting “genocided souls!” and “immortals!”
The lanterns symbolically had the names of one hundred people who lost their lives in death marches, arbitrary executions and the slaughtered of men and women, elderly and children.
It was the minimum tribute to the at least 353,000 victims of the Pontic Greeks Genocide.
Earlier, young artists of Pontus origin sang traditional mourning songs.
On the Remembrance Day May 19th, the Panpontic Federation in Greece has called for a gathering on Sunday afternoon in order to send a “loud message demanding the international recognition of the Pontic Greeks Genocide.”
On Sunday commemoration events continue with laying wreaths at the the Pontic Greeks Memorial.
On the occasion of the Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Greece does not demand revenge but justice and international recognition of the crimes committed by the Turks.
The Greek Parliament is to pay its own tribute by illuminating the building accordingly.
The Pontic Greek Genocide describes the systematic ethnic cleansing of Pontus Greeks n who traditionally lived in the region of Pontus, on the shores of the Black Sea and in the Pontic Mountains of northeastern Anatolia. The systematic killing took place on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish national movement against the indigenous Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Eastern Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments.