HEC-Hellenic Ellectronic Center
Press Release
New York 03/22/2001
Subject: Update on the Diaspora's response to Greek government

Dear Hellenic Press:

This weekend marks 180 years since the bold decision by a few  individuals to seek their liberty from a repressive empire. The Greek revolution is forever ingrained in the annals of history and was the result of hundreds of years of dreams of the Greeks to escape the bonds of Ottoman Turkish slavery.

Today, we commemorate the valiant efforts of those individuals in different ways. Their exploits and aspirations continue to serve as a guide for the Greeks of the Diaspora, and the legacy is used to encorage the younger generations to strive for truth, freedom, democratic principles and justice in a world of many ideological challenges.

Greece and its legacy flourished in Asia Minor despite the oppressive edicts of the Ottoman Turkish Sultans, but the beginning of the 20th century was marked by one of the most bloodiest events of Greek history:

The Genocides in Asia Minor, with the protagonist Mustafa Kemal and his NeoTurks.

The events in Asia Minor are pivotal if we are to understand the dynamics of the Southeastern Mediterranean, and more importantly, the dogma and mentality as well as the aspirations of the current regime in Turkey. Greece has embraced Turkey and is willing to assist in its integration into the European Union as a modern, democratic state respecting the rule of law, the sovereignty of its neighbors and freedom of speech within its borders.

Greece has made significant and to a point, dangerous sacrifices that impinge on Greek sovereignty, in facilitating Turkey's European accession. However, a very recent decision by the Greek government cannot be condoned or justified and must be strongly opposed.
At issue is the Greek submission to Turkish demands and threats to re-interpret Greek history. Turkey demanded, in early February, that Greece remove all references to the Greek Genocides in Asia Minor in a law unanimously passed, originally in 1998, decreeing the 14th of September of every year as a memorial day for the Greek Genocides in Asia Minor.

To deny the Greek Genocides is to revise history and to submit it to the threats of the same caste of individuals whose only objective is to export censorship and oppression to the Southeastern Mediterranean.

The Diaspora's outcry was immediate and powerful. Primarily co-ordinated by the Hellenic Electronic Center, and supported by AHEPA, the Federation of Associations of New York and many other associations of the Diaspora, over 5500 signatures have been collected on an on-line electronic petition (http://www.greece.org/genocide) and over 4500 hand-signed petitions have been received from all over the world.

This is an ongoing effort to demonstrate the Diaspora's displeasure and very strong concern to the Greek government. There are still individuals who have not participated in this effort and we strongly urge them to do so by either signing the petition at: http://www.greece.org/genocide or by writing a letter to the Greek government at: GreekParliament@hec.greece.org

Should the Greek government persist in demanding the removal of the references in question, to the Diaspora it will indicate that there is no serious commitment by the Greek government to respect the voices of its children abroad, it will make the preservation and dissemination as well as the promotion of all Hellenic issues abroad more challenging. In
fact, setting a precedent for history denial under the threats of a foreign power will put into question the credibility of all Hellenic
organisations abroad that try and promote positive images for Greece in foreign media and centers of power.

This is a serious issue that the Greek government should explore if it wants the continued support of the Diaspora.
For further information, contact action@hec.greece.org 


HEC Executive Council
and the Genocide ACTION group