Sydney: 90th Anniversary Armenian Genocide Commemoration

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE COMMEMORATIVE COMMITTEE
259 Penshurst Street
Willoughby NSW 2068
Email: [email protected]
Contact: Dr Tro Kortian 0412197364

90th ANNIVERSARY ARMENIAN GENOCIDE COMMEMORATION – Sydney, Australia

Sydney, AUSTRALIA: On Sunday 24 April 2005 – on the eve of the 90th
Anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli – members of Sydney’s
Armenian-Australian Community joined millions of Armenians dispersed
around the world, in a solemn commemoration marking the 90th
Anniversary of the Genocide of the Armenians perpetrated by the
Ottoman Turkish government during World War I.

The 90th Anniversary Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Sydney was
organised by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of
Australia, under the auspices of the Armenian Council of Australia,
and under the primateship of His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian,
Primate of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.

A crowd in excess of 1100 packed the Willoughby Town Hall in Sydney
for the Commemoration. Also in attendance were several federal, state
and local politicians, other public figures, representatives of
various ethnic communities and five genocide survivors with their
family members. All being present both to honour the memory of the 1.5
million Armenian men, women and children who fell victim to the
Genocide that commenced on 24 April 1915, as well as to reaffirm their
vigilance against such crimes against humanity and any attempts to
deny, obfuscate or demean the historical truth surrounding such crimes

International Guest Speaker for the evening was Mrs Hilda Tchoboian,
President of the Armenian European Federation for Justice and
Democracy (EAFJD) ` the influential Brussels-based advocacy body of
the Armenian-European Community.

In her moving key-note address to the audience, delivered in both
English and Armenian, Mrs Tchoboian paid homage not only to the
victims of the Genocide but also `to the men, women and children who
were destined to be dehumanised by the criminal designs of the Turkish
government, but who survived ` your parents, our parents ` and who
succeeded in achieving a miracle of humanity: that of building, after
so much horror and suffering, a society of responsible men and women
who knew to preserve and transfer to future generations love, moral
fibre and human values.’

Commenting on the current state of affairs, Mrs Tchoboian observed `
娄 Ninety years later, modern Turkey is in a panic realising that
the International Community will not forget this Crime which it has
tried so hard to eliminate from the memory of the human race.’

She went on to note `With the denial of Genocide, Turkey is itself
complicit in the guilt of the organisers of the Genocide. It has a
moral responsibility, for which the International Community must hold
Turkey accountable’ as well as a political responsibility `娄since
the Turkish nation-state was constructed on the cadavers of the
Armenian people; Turkey built itself with confiscated assets and the
nationalised inheritance of the murdered Armenians, which were
integrated into the Turkish national treasury.’

In her concluding comments, Mrs Tchoboian added: `Today’s Turkey is
responsible for the Genocide of the Armenians. Today’s Turkey must
recognise the crime and must bear the full legal consequences
emanating from such recognition. There can be no compromise on this
fundamental obligation.’

During the Commemoration, statements and messages of support was
conveyed to the audience by several federal and state politicians.
These included: The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Minister for Human Services,
representing the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon John Howard; Mr
Tony Burke MP. Representing The Hon. Kim Beazley, Leader of the
Federal Opposition; The Hon John Watkins MP, Minister for Transport,
representing the Premier of New South Wales, The Hon Bob Carr, and The
Hon John Brogden MP, Leader of Opposition in New South Wales. A
video-taped message from the Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Bob
Carr marking the occasion of the 90th Anniversary of the Genocide was
also broadcast to the Commemoration.

The Commemoration concluded with a closing address and prayer by His
Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian.

* * * * *

90th ANNIVERSARY ARMENIAN GENOCIDE COMMEMORATION:
Statements and Messages of Support

Sydney, AUSTRALIA: At the 90th Anniversary Armenian Genocide
Commemoration in Sydney held on Sunday 24 April 2005, several federal
and state politicians conveyed statements and messages of support to
the audience.

Below is the text of some of these messages of support:

Message from the Premier of New South Wales, The Hon. Bob Carr MP

MESSAGE FROM PREMIER BOB CARR 90TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

The twentieth century was the century of genocide.

And the slaughter of the Armenians was its horrific beginning. Because
the world chose to forget and in many places still chooses to
forget. It taught a chilling lesson:

– that you can get away with genocide;

– an attempt to obliterate a whole people off the face of the earth
may not be stopped by any earthly power.

Hitler himself is witness to this startling proposition.

`Who after all remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?’ he said,
and calmly proceeded to murder six million Jews.

Pol Pot followed. And Bosnia. And Rwanda. And now, even after all
these lessons, Darfur.

But the Armenian genocide is the original, horrible attempted
extermination of a whole people under the guise of war, in a gruesome
coincidence with the Anzac landings happening a few hundred kilometres
away.

To those who would deny the Armenian genocide, it is worth remembering
Australian prisoners-of-war are among the witnesses.

One soldier wrote about how he saw:

`a hundred human wolves plunge in among about ten times as many
defenceless human beings, tearing them to pieces with bayonets. The
Armenians were unable to run away. They were tied together four by
four and utterly exhausted. The assassins simply nailed them to the
ground.’

In such ways were 1.5 million men, women and children put to death,
killed simply for being Armenian, and ninety years later their voices
still call down the decades for justice and for remembrance.

As the late Pope John Paul II said at the memorial in Yerevan:

Listen, oh Lord, to the lament that rises from this place, to the cry
of innocent blood that pleads like the blood of Abel, like Rachel
weeping for her children because they are no more.

We have heard their cries. We will remember them always.

********

The Hon. Kim Beazley MP, Leader of the Federal Opposition

MESSAGE FOR THE 90TH ARMENIAN GENOCIDE COMMEMORATION

On behalf of the Federal Australian Labor Party I would like to extend
my very best wishes to the Armenian Community of Sydney and to
acknowledge with respect all members of the Armenian community
attending today’s ceremony commemorating the untimely deaths of so
many of their country men, women and children during World War 1.

The 20th Century was witness to the Armenian Genocide, which will be
remembered in history as one of the most horrific events the world has
seen, and today is dedicated to the memory of the Armenian people who
suffered so terribly during those dark days and years. As Armenians
all over the world gather together to honour the memory of the
innocent lives that were lost, this commemoration ceremony reminds us
all that we all share a duty to protect the religious, racial and
political rights of all humanity.

Armenia is a small but an ancient civilization with a rich culture and
heritage. Australia has welcomed Armenian settlers since the days of
the gold rush in the 1850s. Today the 30,000 strong Australian
Armenian community includes people born in 43 countries who make an
important contribution to our culture and diversity and who are an
integral part of our splendid cohesive and proud multicultural
society. The annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in World
War I is an opportunity for all Australians to reflect on the values
of peace and coexistence and the need be ever vigilant against the
abuse of human and civil rights..

Today’s ceremony symbolises the great courage and spirit of the
Armenian people and I know it will be a fitting commemoration for
those who died in the genocide

*******

The Hon John Brogden MP, Leader of Opposition in New South Wales

`A farmer God created man,

The soil to dress and till; Cursed be the hand whose wicked art

Has taught him blood to spill!’

As many of you will recognise, those are the ringing words of the
great Armenian poet Catholicos Khrimian `Hayrig’:

This month of April is overloaded with melancholic anniversaries:

路 tonight we mark the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

路 the sun will shortly rise on the pilgrims assembled on the beaches
and the killing fields of Gallipoli also ninety years on from the day
that sacred place entered the Australian soul

路 sixty years ago this month the death camps of Nazi Germany were
liberated

路 thirty years ago the monstrous Khmer Rouge swept across Cambodia and
sent its own people to their terrible killing fields.

The lives of men and women, of people and nations, are linked in one
great almost impenetrable web ` the web of our common humanity. Ninety
years ago two great tragedies occurred on Turkish soil: the events
known to all history as the Armenian Genocide and the landings on
Gallipoli.

The one event, an assault upon the very existence of an ancient
nation; the other the coming of age of a new one.The Twentieth Century
itself could well be described as the Century of Genocides:

路 first the Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans

路 then the Jews and gypsies at the hands of the Nazis

路 next the Cambodians at the hands of their own mad despots

路 followed by the Serbs and Muslims at the hands of their once
neighbours

路 more recently the Tutsis of Rwanda at the hands of another ethnic
tribe

路 and even today the people of Dhafur in the Sudan at the hands of
their racial and religious overlords.

To our everlasting shame we have all too often remained silent, even
in the light of the clearest evidence of genocide.

The continuing denial of the Armenian Genocide has provided a license
for other Genocidist states to continue to perpetrate these crimes
against humanity.

It is indeed correct that the sins of silence created their own evil.

Winston Churchill lamented after peace was made between Turkey and the
great powers that:

`history will search in vain for the word Armenia’.

Churchill was wrong.

Mount Ararat still stands.

The people of Armenia have withstood the Turks, war, earthquakes and
strife.

They are a living embodiment of these words of scripture – “From this
faith none can shake us, neither angels, nor men, neither sword, fire
or water, nor any bitter torturers.”

The people of Armenia endure.

In remembering the suffering and the slaughter of the Armenian people,
we must keep foremost in our minds ` now and forever the simple
promise ` `never again!’.

Genocides, wherever they occur ` in time or in place ` share two
prerequisites:

路 they are fuelled by hate, prejudice and ignorance, and

路 their aim is nothing less than an extermination of a people, their
language and their culture.

They arise in the black pits of a warped human psyche and they seek to
consign their victims to a black pit of contemporary and historic
oblivion.

Genocides are defeated both by force of arms in the hands of the
righteous and by the light which shines from the recognition of our
common humanity.

You ` the inheritors and guardians of the culture, the history, the
language, the faith and the memory of the Armenian people and the
Armenian nation have a responsibility, as grave as any cast upon
people today:

路 to remember ` to serve the honoured memory of your ancestral people
and your nation, to guard its very essence and transmit it to future
generations.

Alongside this grave responsibility I know that those with Armenian
ancestry in the four corners of the globe make an enormous
contribution in the nations that have become their new homes.

The facts of the Armenian Genocide are too clear, too unambiguous, too
well attested and too recent to be ignored or denied.

There can only be forgiveness and reconciliation if there is
recognition and regret

In the same spirit that the German Chancellor has acknowledged the
truth of the Holocaust and made a national apology, so there remains
an imperative that the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide
recognise, regret and repent.

Mikayel Nalbandian in his epic poem `Liberty’ warns that for those of
us who are committed to freedom, justice, peace and truth

`The path is thorny all the way

And many trials wait for thee娄’

Together, here, tonight, and in common with all members of the
Armenian diaspora wherever they gather to mark today and to remember,
we know that we can travel that thorny path and overcome those many
trials.

As we move closer to a century of denial we must maintain our resolve
that those who committed the heinous crimes against the Armenian
people during those dark, dark days in April 1915 and ensuing months
are made to accept responsibility for their heinous crimes.

I would like to leave you with the words of the famous Pullitzer prize
winning American author William Saroyan which I think captures the
essence of the Armenian spirit and makes it easy to understand why we
must honour the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide:

Saroyan wrote:

`I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this
small tribe of unimportant people whose wars have all been fought and
lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is
unheard and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia.
See it if you can do it. Send them to the desert without bread or
water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not
laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the
world, see if they will not create a new Armenia.

You may also like