Turkish Slaughters Hit My Greek Family as Well as the Armenians

Turkish Slaughters Hit My Greek Family as Well as the Armenians

Silvia Samaras Beres for Salem-News.com

Unfortunately, many resist recognition of the Armenian holocaust, and support Israel’s effort to reserve that tragic identity exclusively for Jews.

Images of the Armenian genocide.

Images of the Armenian genocide.

(EUGENE, Ore.) – Turkey is under fire around the world today for genocide it committed a century ago, and which it has tried to deny for almost as long.

As an American of Greek ancestry, I get satisfaction from the prospect Turkey finally could be held accountable for its violence against those of its people who were not Muslims– Greeks, as well as Armenians.

One of the victims was my father. I would not be here today if he had not pulled himself out of a pile of dead bodies and escaped from Turkey 90 years ago.

That thought came to me as I read of Turkey’s ambassador being called home from the United States because a Congressional committee accepted charges that Turks slaughtered more than a million Armenians just after World War I.

My parents were Turkish citizens of Greek ethnicity living in Smyrna near the coast of Anatolia. It was a cosmopolitan city of Turks, Greeks, Armenians,Jews and Assyrians, and felt the fury of the first holocaust of the 20th century.

After the city was destroyed by Mustafa Ataturk in 1922, the Turks made sure to cover up incriminating evidence the rest of the world might see.

Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers.
Kharpert, Ottoman Empire, April 1915.

Smyrna was rebuilt under the new Turkish name, Izmir. But documentation of what happened has begun to emerge, especially in books by linguist, Niki Karavasilis, who founded the New Hampshire series of workshops, “In Search of Excellence in Teaching Foreign Language.”

She describes how Armenians– viewed by the West as too marginal to be relevant today– stay infuriated by Turkey’s efforts to cover up history. They say Turkey’s goal to deny the truth should not invalidate the truth.

Although I’m not Armenian, I know the truth of the accusation because more than a million Greeks, my ancestors, suffered the same fate when they were subjected to Turkish genocide. My father was alive when he was thrown into a burial pit with other victims of the Turks.

Most were dead. At night, he managed to climb out and make his way to the Turkish coast of Anatolia, his family home for generations.

He joined others on a raft that took them to a Greek island. I heard the story from my mother, who as a girl had escaped the slaughter, reaching the island of Chios. There Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou gave refugees sanctuary. His grandson of the same name is Greek prime minister today.

Many Greeks could not manage to flee to the islands. My grandfather was among dozens of them forced into a church the Turks then burned to the ground. That atrocity has become part of my personal family history. So I resent persistent denials of guilt by Turkey.

It’s awkward for the U.S. because Turkey collaborated with our country in the invasion of Iraq. For me, it’s a relief that some members of Congress chose to bring the charges to the full Congress in a resolution that would give validity to Armenian claims.

They are my claims, too.

What passed in silence even in Greek-American communities of my childhood became part of an international debate during March.

Turkey got indignant when its slaughter of Armenians formally was recognized by the Parliament of Sweden and the Foreign Relations Committee of our House of Representatives. It reacted by recalling its ambassadors from both countries.

Did anyone care? Not many except Americans of Armenian, Greek and Assyrian heritage, and some Jewish-Americans sensitive from personal experience to terror directed toward any minority ethnic group.

Unfortunately, many resist recognition of the Armenian holocaust, and support Israel’s effort to reserve that tragic identity exclusively for Jews.

The only governments to tolerate Turkey’s denial of guilt have been the U.S., Israel and Azerbaijan. Turkey felt it could hide from the truth as it slipped further back into corners of history.

The Untold Holocaust: “Assyrian Genocide Documentary Part 1”

But it is learning the truth cannot forever be hidden, just as it cannot deny having been a World War I ally of Germany during the Armenian slaughters.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.