NEW YORK—Organized by the Pan-Thracian Union of America, “Orpheus,” activists gathered in Ralph J. Bunch Park outside the United Nations building to commemorate the Thracian genocide perpetrated by the Young Turk Party in Thrace, Anatolia and Asia Minor.
Speakers included Sabri Atman, Founder and Director of the Assyrian Genocide and Research Center; Elias Tsekeride, Deputy President of the International Confederation of Pontian Hellenes and Parish Council of Prophet Elias Church of Yonkers; Dimitris Molohides, President of the Pan-Pontian Federation USA and CANADA; Nikolaos Taneris, President of the Pan Thracian Union of America; and Garo Manjikian, Director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)-Eastern Region.
“The descendants of the Greeks of Thrace, who now live in Greece and throughout the world, are entering their third and fourth generation as descendants of Genocide survivors. This commemoration in New York is a result of a new effort in recent years to tell survivor stories and speak out about the Genocide, and further, to demand justice from Turkey – the perpetrator of the Genocide that resulted in the death of the many millions of Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians who were the original indigenous people of the entire land mass of Asia Minor and Thrace,” said Taneris.
Speaking on Turkey’s continued genocidal policies, Manjikian commented that “Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian cultural and historic sites – such as churches that go back to the 6th, 7th, and 8th century – continue to be destroyed or neglectd in Turkey today.” He also noted that Turkey’s continued genocidal policies are sometimes enforced by militarily force, such as the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the killing of innocent Kurds in eastern Turkey.
“Assyrians once in the hundreds of thousands lived in cities, towns, and villages geographically located in the east and southeast regions of what is now today’s Turkey. Presently 10,000 Assyrians live in Turkey today,” said Tsekeride. Tsekeride also highlighted the recent resolution passed in the Swedish parliament that recognized the events of 1915-1923 as genocide committed against Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks.
All speakers referred to the cycle of genocide that continues today and the need to prevent genocide. “It has to be clear that today we are not only condemning the Thracian Genocide, or the Armenian genocide, or the Jewish Holocaust, or the Genocide in Rwanda or Darfur, but also crimes against humanity. It is my responsibility, as well as your responsibility, to commemorate such acts of violence and to work actively to prevent these crimes,” said Molohides.