December 16, 1997
Via Fax: (212) 556-3622
To the Editor of The New York Times:
Placing Cyprus and Greece alongside such genocidal heavyweights as Germany and Turkey in Gerald Scully’s study, "Murder By The State" (12/14/97), is as absurd as comparing European Jews to their Nazi persecutors; concentration camps run by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust took the lives of thousands of Germans, yet it would be grotesque to genuinely characterize Europe’s Jews as "democidal" or genocidal.
Likewise, as Greeks and other Orthodox Christians have been the victims of multiple genocides perpetrated by the Ottoman government and its successor Turkish state (see e.g. Delacroix’s "Massacre at Chios", portraying an event in which the entire population of Chios was massacred and its survivors sold into slavery), equating the two groups is nothing short of morally perverse. Moreover, restricting Turkey’s "main" victims to Armenians and Kurds, as Mr. Scully has done, is not only highly insensitive but inaccurate.
During the aftermath of WWI, a million and a half Armenians and 300,000 Pontians (a Hellenic ethnic minority in the Black Sea region) were killed in this century’s first systematic genocide. In 1922, tens of thousands of Greeks were burned or hacked to death by Kemal Ataturk’s death squads in the city of Smyrna alone (now renamed Izmir) as the American, British and French navies watched passively by the shore. In addition to the killing of an estimated 10,000 Greeks by Turkish forces during their invasion of Cyprus, the leader of the occupation government in northern Cyprus created a furor last year when he admitted that the 1,619 Greeks presumed missing were actually killed by Turkish troops while in their custody.
Given this bloodied past, what is remarkable is the degree of restraint Greeks have shown towards the perpetrators of their own five-centuries-long holocaust. While the Constantinopolean Greek community--estimated at 250,000 in 1950--has been whittled down to less than 2,000 today as a result of government-sponsored pogroms, terrorist attacks, hate crimes, discriminatory laws and the confiscation of property, the Muslim and Turkish minorities in northern Greece have flourished to over a hundred thousand, enjoying the benefits of an affirmative action education program as well as full representation in the Greek Parliament.
Scully’s study does not offer any sources to support his implication of Cypriots and Greeks in democide, perhaps because he would be unable to find any reliable evidence in support of such an irresponsible assertion. It is preposterous that Scully’s study should cast the victims of one of Europe’s oldest, longest and most tragic genocidal campaigns in the same light as that of its perpetrators.
Very truly yours,
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.