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  • Writer's pictureInternational Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

Did the Pontian Genocide Occur in Isolation, or Was It Part of Turkey’s Bigger Plan?

May 19, 2020 marks the day of commemoration for the genocide of the Pontian Greeks. In Zoryan Institute’s upcoming publication, Collective and State and Violence in Turkey: The Construction of a National Identity from Empire to Nation-State, the Institute explores the Pontian Genocide as one of the many cases of collective violence committed by the state, both during the Ottoman Empire, and the Young Turks and Republican eras.

Prof. Raymond Kevorkian, one of the co-editors of the Collective and State Violence publication, states:

“Modern collective violence is unique for its vast scale, and closely associated with building the national state and economy. Its most massive outbreaks are the work of organizations or parties that are integral to the system, and to which the state has granted a form of legitimacy and delegated the use of violence.”

The Institute’s Executive Director, George Shirinian, is an author of one of the 17 papers featured in this comprehensive volume. His chapter, Collective State Violence against Greeks in the Late Ottoman Empire, 1821–1923, explores the violent exclusion of Greeks from Asia Minor in 1920-1923, in the form of deportations, massacres, and population exchanges.

He made the following statement on this day of commemoration:

“The Pontian Genocide did not take place in isolation. It was part of a longer-term effort against not only the Pontian Greeks, but also Greeks on the eastern coast of Turkey, as well as Armenians and Assyrians throughout the Ottoman Empire. These three communities represented non-Muslim, non-Turkish Ottoman citizens, who were considered by the country’s ruling elite to be mortal enemies to the security and the old glory of the Ottoman Empire. One cannot fully understand the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians, or Greeks if one studies them individually; they are part of a larger history. As such, the Pontian Greek Genocide is an important case study, not only in the history of the Ottoman Empire, but also the history of intolerance, racism, and genocide. Thus, it is of great importance and relevance to all of humanity today.”

Stay tuned to learn more about the Pontian Genocide in the anticipated publication, Collective and State and Violence in Turkey: The Construction of a National Identity from Empire to Nation-State co-edited by Raymond Kevorkian, and one of the Board Members of the Institute, Stephan Astourian.

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