Sydney’s Pontian community gather to remember lives lost during Greek Genocide

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On Sunday, 19 May 2024, Pontoxeniteas NSW held a poignant commemoration of the Greek Genocide at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady, Redfern. This solemn day of remembrance honoured the ancestors of Pontos and drew a significant turnout from the community.

The Cretan Association of Sydney & NSW also held their commemorations for the 83rd anniversary of the Battle of Crete on the day.

pontian genocide sydney
All photos copyright The Greek Herald.

The event was graced by several distinguished guests, including Archbishop Makarios of Australia, Chancellor Archimandrite Father Christophoros Krikelis, and a delegation from the Hellenic Ministry of Defence featuring Vice Admiral Christos Sasiakos, Deputy Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, Captain Pavlos Angelopoulos, Staff Officer of the Bilateral Relations Directorate of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, and Colonel Ioannis Fasianos, Military Attaché of the Hellenic National Defence Force based in Canberra.

pontian genocide sydney
pontian genocide sydney

These guests participated in the Divine Liturgy and memorial service, where the Archbishop spoke and brought many to tears as they remembered the atrocities and lives lost during the genocide, underscoring the importance of such commemorations.

Following the service, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Participants included Vice Admiral Sasiakos; the Consul General of Greece in Sydney Yannis Mallikourtis; the NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis MP; as well as many leaders of local Cretan, Pontian and Assyrian organisations.

All photos copyright The Greek Herald.

The commemoration continued at the Theological College Hall of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The hall was filled with attendees of all ages, including representatives from many Greek associations, as well as Armenian and Assyrian friends. The event featured an intergenerational programme where younger generations participated, highlighting the enduring legacy and importance of these historical events.

Master of Ceremonies Mia Karatasas and Spiros Papastefanou led the event, introducing the first speaker, Consul General Mallikourtis, who spoke on the historical significance of the Greek Genocide and congratulated the Pontian community for their ongoing efforts to preserve their heritage.

Young students Anna Marie Plyromalis, Anastasia Papastefanou, and Andrew Belogiannis shared their personal connections to Pontos, reflecting the continuity of cultural identity across generations.

Esta Paschalidis-Chilas, President of the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia, addressed the audience, speaking on the devastating impact of the White Genocide.

pontian genocide sydney
Esta Paschalidis-Chilas

Dr Panayiotis Diamadis of the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies paid tribute to the late Michalis Charalambidis, a key figure in the recognition of the Greek Genocide, and discussed the ongoing movement for political recognition of the genocide in Australia.

pontian genocide sydney
Dr Panayiotis Diamadis

The emotional highlight of the evening was a performance by Pontoxeniteas NSW students, who sang a solemn song in the Pontian dialect, accompanied by Prodromo Moysiadis on the Lyra and Kosta Papoulidis on the flogina, under the guidance of their mentor, Christina Iwannidou.

pontian genocide sydney

Maria Anthony, President of Pontoxeniteas NSW, extended heartfelt thanks to all distinguished guests, members, and friends for their support. She expressed gratitude to the Armenian National Committee of Australia and the Assyrian National Council of Australia for their solidarity.

The event concluded with Vice Admiral Sasiakos being presented a small gift of the Panagia icon as a token of gratitude, reciprocated by a gift to the Pontian Association.

The event underscored the importance of remembering and honouring the past, ensuring that the sacrifices and stories of ancestors are never forgotten.

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