An unprecedented number of Federal and State parliamentarians joined the Armenian-Australian community in commemorating the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, amplifying calls for the Australian Government’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).
Over 20 ministers, shadow ministers and parliamentarians representing all sides of politics conveyed condolence messages to the Armenian-Australian community. Their messages contradicted Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s statement that recognised “dispossession, deportations and death” – as well as Australia’s first international humanitarian relief effort to assist surviving orphans – but failed to correctly characterise as genocide the 1915 murders of over 1.5 million Armenians, and over 1 million Assyrians and Greeks.
Prime Minister Morrison, who called for Federal Australian recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a backbench MP in 2011, failed to correctly characterise the crimes of 1915 in his 2021 statement, despite acknowledging Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort to aid the “dispossession, deportations and deaths” suffered during the events.
Despite this, supportive video messages of Australia’s political leaders were streamed online via Facebook and YouTube during the Australian National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on Friday the 23rd of April.
Messages were received from Hon. Paul Fletcher MP – Minister Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and Art, as well as Federal parliamentarians, Adam Bandt MP – Leader of The Australian Greens, Tim Wilson MP, Jason Falinski MP, Trent Zimmerman MP, John Alexander MP, Julian Lesser MP, Josh Burns MP, Fiona Martin MP, Steve Georganas MP, Mike Freelander MP, Senator Andrew Bragg, Senator Kristina Keneally and Senator Eric Abetz.
In his message to the Armenian-Australian community, Minister Fletcher conveyed: “It’s vital that here in Australia, in line with the position of so many other countries around the world, we recognize and acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, so that, amongst other things, such atrocity is never again perpetrated.”
Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, Senator Keneally also called on Australia to recognize the Armenian Genocide, saying: “I look forward to the time the Australian Parliament … join[s] over 30 nations around the world in recognising the Armenian Genocide.”
The leader of the largest Federal cross-bench party, Bandt similarly joined his Parliamentary colleagues in not only calling for Australia to recognize the mass murder of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks as genocides, but also denounced any foreign gag order being imposed by Turkey on Australian leaders.
Bandt said: “The Greens have long held the unequivocal view that the Australian Government must recognize the Armenian Genocide and not languish with Turkey and other countries refusing to recognize this tragedy.”
These messages were echoed by many parliamentary colleagues of Fletcher, Keneally and Bandt.
“We welcome the broad non-partisan support from our allies and friends in the Australian parliament and thank them for raising their voice on this important issue. We look forward to working with them to ensure Australia too accurately characterises the Armenian Genocide,” said ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian.
The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of Australia’s largest state of New South Wales and a grandchild of Armenian Genocide Survivors, led messages of support from fellow state legislators from both major parties, including Speaker Jonathon Odea MP, Minister Hon. Victor Dominello MP, Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord MLC, Hugh McDermott MP and Janelle Saffin MP.
In her statement, Premier Berejiklian honoured the memory of our ANZACs and paid tribute to the thousands of Australians, who financially supported and aided Armenian, Assyrian and Greek survivors during the 1915 Genocides.
Berejiklian said: “Our own Aussie diggers were some of the first witnesses and Australian charities [were] some of the first around the world to provide assistance to were victims back in 1915.”
On 24th April, Berejiklian also took to social media and raised the issue with her over 200,000 Instagram, Facebook and Twitter followers, noting: “I am forever hopeful Australia will join the many nations around the world who have recognised the Armenian Genocide of 1915.”
In addition to these political messages of support, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received letters calling for his accurate recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides from Mr. Trent Zimmerman MP and Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP – as co-convenors of the Armenia-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Union, Senator Janet Rice – as the Foreign Affairs Spokesperson of The Australian Greens, Hon. Jonathan O’Dea MP and Hon. Walt Secord MLC – as co-convenors of the New South Wales Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, the New South Wales Young Liberals, the New South Wales Ecumenical Council representing 16 churches, Christian Charity Barnabas Fund Australia, Kurdish Lobby Australia, as well as from numerous prominent academics.
The Jewish-Australian community also added their voice to these calls, with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the editors of Australian Jewish News calling on Australia and Israel to recognise the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides.