Willoughby (Australia): Council to apologise

Council to apologise

North Shore Times (Fri) (Australia)
May 14, 2004 Friday

A GENOCIDE commemoration was marred by a series of blunders by
Willoughby Council recently.

The event, held each year as the focal point for the Armenian
Community’s commemorations in Sydney, was disrupted by a
double-booking of the Town Hall.

In a stunning oversight, the council’s Heritage Committee was granted
use of the front lawn and stairs leading to the main entrance to the
hall, forcing commemoration attendees to sneak through activities to
a side entrance.

Adding further distress was the presence of a Turkish food seller at
the entry to the hall. More than 1.5 million Armenians died during
the genocide carried out by Turkish authorities from April, 1915.

In the audience on the night were several survivors of the genocide.
Khajaque Kortian of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee
said he expected full access to the hall, having booked and paid a
year ago.

“The main entry was completely blocked which I found strange given we
normally can’t even put tables there,” Mr Kortian said. “There was
confusion about whether it was being held outside or inside.

“It’s not just for our community, it needs to be addressed. No hirer
should have to go through that.”

Councillor Judith Rutherford said the community and food sellers
should receive partial refunds.

“It was a disgrace and people were upset. Whoever had organised it
had not thought through the significance,” she said.

” If you know the history of that whole event that was just a really
silly thing to do.”

The council said it would send letters of apology to organisers.