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President Sakellaropoulou Commemorates Chios Massacre

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President Sakellaropoulou in Anavatos on the island of Chios. Credit: Presidency GR / Twitter

The President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou visited the Eastern Aegean island of Chios on Sunday to commemorate the Chios massacre.

The Chios massacre was one of the worst atrocities committed by the Ottoman Turks in the 19th century against the revolted Greek Christian population of the then Empire.

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”Today, here in Anavatos of Chios, we honor the memory of the thousands of undefeated martyrs of the terrible massacre committed by the Turks in 1822. We praise the spirit of those who made the island to be reborn at the urging of their compatriot, Adamantios Korais, who said “You recovered and made the paternal land brighter”.

This was the message of President Sakellaropoulou in a Twitter post she uploaded on Sunday afternoon from the heroic island of Chios.

Anavatos was a prosperous village on Chios. It was established in the Byzantine era, probably by workers of the Nea Moni of Chios. The area has been abandoned since the Massacre of Chios in 1822 and subsequently the huge earthquake of 1881.

What was the Chios Massacre?

In March 1822 several hundred armed Greeks from the neighboring island of Samos landed on Chios, as the Greek War of Independence had already begun. They attacked the Ottomans, who retreated to the citadel. Many islanders then decided to join the Greek War of Independence.

However, the vast majority of the population had, by all accounts, not joined other Greeks in their revolt against the Ottoman Empire and had done absolutely nothing to provoke the hideous reprisals.

The Ottomans sent reinforcements to Chios on March 22. On March 31, orders were given to burn down the town, and over the next four months, another estimated 40,000 Turkish troops arrived on the island.

In addition to setting fires, the troops were ordered to kill all infants under three years old, all males 12 years and older, and all females 40 and older, except those willing to convert to Islam.

Tens of thousands of survivors dispersed throughout Europe and became part of what became known as the Chian Diaspora.

The European wave of support toward the Greeks

The massacre shocked the entire Europe and protesters brought attention to the atrocity, with many famous artists dedicating works to this heinous event. The Chios massacre was a turning point, after which the Greek cause for liberty was hailed by every free-thinking individual in the continent.

One of the greatest works of the great French painter Eugene Delacroix was a depiction of the Massacre of Chios, showing all Europeans the horrors and atrocities the Ottomans were responsible for on the island.

Victor Hugo wrote a poem about the massacre as well, while voluntary organizations collected money to support the Greek Revolution with arms and weapons, and many Westerners came to Greece to fight against the Ottomans.

On June 6th, 1822, Konstantinos Kanaris, a native of Chios, finally retaliated. Kanaris, who had somehow survived the massacre, set ablaze a Turkish fleet that had landed in the port of Chios, killing 2,000 Ottomans and destroying all the ships in the port.

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