Letter to The New York Times, December 31, 1997

Via Fax: (212) 556-3622

December 31, 1997

The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

To the Editor:

In his December 22nd report from Istanbul, Stephen Kinzer reports that Turkey and Greece "have deep seated animosities that spring from a long history during which Greece was colonized by Ottoman Turks." The fact is that the Hellenes of Greece and Asia Minor, the heart of the Byzantine Empire, were not colonized. They were invaded, a great civilization was destroyed, and its inhabitants were enslaved under arguably the cruelest and most repressive occupation a European peoples have had to endure.

This nightmarish chapter in the history of the Greek people lasted for nearly four centuries and was replete with horrific genocides, the systematic abduction of children for conversion to Islam, the violent repression of religion and education, and the nearly complete dehumanization of an entire people based on their religion, race and language. The conspiracy of silence on this Greek holocaust is perpetuated when the facts surrounding the "Turkish Night" are ignored, misrepresented, or simply dismissed as a benign "colonization".

The same article states that "Turkish warplanes had flown unusually close to Greek territory in an effort to provoke trouble". Why Mr. Kinzer would understate the gravity of these violations is deeply troubling--there is a long and well-documented record of routine violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes. Recently, Turkish fighter jets threatened the civilian plane a high-ranking Greek government official was in while he was flying to and from unoccupied Cyprus. The Greek Government’s protests of these and numerous other acts of aggression to the State Department and appropriate international forums have mostly fallen on deaf ears.

Perhaps it is misrepresentations such as these which help create an environment tolerant of the denial of past wrongs, and favorable to the commission of new ones.

Very truly yours,

Stamatis Sinis, M.D.

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