Writer Thea Halo

‘Not Even My Name’                             A book by Thea Halo


Tracing the origins of forgotten wounds

‘The exclusivity of suffering’ says Thea Halo, has obliterated the recognition of the less known genocides like that of the Pontian Greeks and the Assyrians, as tribal concerns take precedence over historical accuracy. For that reason, Ms Halo has toured universities around the world to deliver papers and bring awareness to communities and organizations on this particular Genocide.

After 2001 and the publication of her book, ‘Not Even My Name’ Ms Halo has worked relentlessly with scholar Adam Jones for the recognition, not the reparations, of the Pontiac Greek and Assyrian genocide which was eventually issued in 2007 by the world’s leading genocide scholars the IAGS International Association of Genocide Scholars affirming “the genocide of both Pontian and other Asia Minor Greeks and Assyrians in Ottoman Turkey from 1914-1923.”

Going back to the time of the events, Ms Halo explained that the Greeks and Assyrians in Turkey were a highly educated population, and that religion was used as a tool to ignite the persecutions. Nonetheless on the religious issue, Ms Halo states that “Islam did not know nations, but just believers” and that during WWI, the stakes changed, as it is methodically described in her book, leading to the dramatic massacre and eradication of these populations from the Turkish territory.

Ms Thea Halo was in Athens on March 9, 2016 where she came to give talks around her book. During this time she was also involved in assessing the possibility of erecting a museum of ‘Pontian Greeks’ customs and traditions, in the region near the Black sea, displaying the legacy of this vanished and forgotten heritage. The project has now been given an 18 hectares space on the sea front to that purposeblank


‘Not Even My Name’ is based on her mother’s memories recounting her perilous journey out of Turkey to Greece during the massacres and persecutions of the 1920s and later her voyage to the USA. In 1992, Thea Halo, aged 51 was a visual artist and when her mother opened up on the reminiscences of her youth that had been buried deep throughout her life in America, her daughter decided to surprise her with a trip to visit her natal village of Iondone in northern Turkey and from this journey on her mother’s painful past together she was compelled to share these recollections with a larger audience than herself. Her book was published in New York in 2001 and is in the process of being published in Turkey in the near future.

Thea didn’t have writing experience when she set out to write and chance had her find an old method where a teenage student had written a piece about her parents’ divorce and the professor had asked her to rewrite it “telling it as it is” and that second piece had moved Halo to tears. The advice guided the pace of her own diegesis. Her mother had had 10 children and died at age 105. Thea Halo says it had been “a hundred years of silence” on the history of her mother’s kin.

Her mother spoke Arabic with her father, and English with the children. Ms Halo insists on how Pontian Greeks and Assyrians’ lives were intricately enmeshed with the Turk and Assyrian populations in the area before the genocide. Her father had been a fabulous story-teller, drawing day-long descriptions of times past. His own father had been a Presbyterian missionary, explaining that the Greek Church was ecumenical, with various Christian branches affiliated.

Ms Halo, as she dissects the historical episodes of her narrative, clarified that in 1880 the Germans were keen on developing commerce with the Turks and with time encouraged the propaganda against the Greeks and Armenians during WWI. Men wore colour code hats to distinguish between the communities. Jews were not attacked at the time but their ensigns would then target them to be massacred during WWII. Through the life story of her family Ms Halo opens a landscape of wounds that were swallowed by the pace of history when they were in dire need of recognition.

Karine Ancellin, March 9, 2016.

An interesting silent documentary can be found at: https://vimeo.com/10069165

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