The building of the Hellenic Community of Melbourne, located in the heart of the city, was illuminated in red on Wednesday night, as part of an initiative of the Coordinating Committee for the Genocide Remembrance Events of Pontian Hellenism and the Pontian Associations of Melbourne.
The red light symbolizes the bloodshed, the blood of the 353,000 Pontians massacred by the Turks.
The President of the Community, Vassilis Papastergiadis, of Pontian origin, stated:
“My grandmother was born in Trabzon, Asia Minor. She raised me here in Australia. She had made the terrible journey from Asia Minor to Greece in the early 19th century. My grandmother was a dynamic and moral woman. She worked hard when she arrived in Kastoria raising four children alone. However, she brought the wounds of Genocide and persecution deep inside her. These painful memories never left her for the rest of her life.
Last year, Panagiotis Iasonidis, of Pontian descent, collaborated for the first time in carrying out this move, stating that the aim was to give the message of the Pontian Genocide to the wider Australian society:
“We wanted to make a mark on the wider society for the Genocide. To illuminate the building of the Community in red. The last phase of the Genocide is the denial of responsibility and the denial of guilt by Turkey, which must assume its responsibilities. Turkey must apologize. Erdogan calls us remnants of the sword, instead of apologizing.”
Litsa Athanasiadis, Secretary of the Pontian Center, stated at the time that she passed outside the Hellenic Center and was shocked to see it in red.
“I am sure that the lighting of the Hellenic Center will provoke a discussion about the Pontian Genocide and will open a new page for its promotion in Australia and beyond. It opens a discussion and is a creative effort that gives people a reason to ask why the building was lit up in red.”