It happened today - March 31, 2016

This is the anniversary of the Massacre at Chios on March 31, 1822. The Turks don’t want you to know that.

The massacre happened during the Greek revolt against the decaying Ottoman Empire. Greeks from the neighbouring island of Samos had come to Chios and, with the backing of some islanders, attacked the Turks and drove them into the citadel. Then a Turkish fleet arrived, pillaged and looted the town of Chios and, on March 31, were ordered to burn it down.

Oh, well, that and kill everyone under three, all men 12 or older and all women 40 and older unless they were willing to convert to Islam. As for women under 40, well, you figure it out. Not that most of the inhabitants had done anything to aid the revolt. But what the heck.

Over the next four months, some 40,000 Turkish troops rampaged through Chios, and it is estimated that about three quarters of the 120,000 inhabitants were killed, enslaved or died of disease. About 2,000 people were left on Chios when it was over.

It didn’t even work, unless you consider killing people and enslaving them an end in itself. The massacre roused outrage throughout Europe, especially after Eugene Delacroix displayed his 1824 painting The Massacre at Chios in Paris, featuring scenes of carnage and desolation and a fetching young lady being yanked out of her clothing. And that outrage helped rally support from Russia, Britain, France and others that brought Greece independence in 1832.

All that was a long time ago now, especially as moderns reckon such things, and the Ottoman Empire has gone the way of the dodo and Assyria, its last gasp being a jihad on behalf of Germany in World War I. And yet when a copy of the painting was displayed on Chios in 2009, officials removed it as a “good faith initiative” to mollify the Turks and try to improve Greek-Turkish relations.

I’m happy to say outraged public opinion forced its reinstatement and it’s still there. But it’s revealing that the incident happened… both the hideous original and the 2009 kerfuffle.