Berejiklian, Nahapetian Among Highlights at Sydney Armenian Genocide Commemoration
SYDNEY, Australia—Around 1,000 guests filled The Concourse in Chatswood for the National Armenian Genocide Commemoration Evening, which featured grandchild of Armenian Genocide survivors and current Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, as well as a keynote address by international guest of honor, Kate Nahapetian.
During the Special Program marking the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which featured cultural acts, audio-visual presentations and speeches from political and community leaders, two significant statements were relayed on behalf of The Australian Greens Party and Senator Nick Xenophon of the NXT Party, respectively. Both parties, who are powerful cross-bench players in the current Australian Federal Senate, called on the Australian government to recognize the Armenian Genocide (read more on this by clicking here).
Following opening remarks by MCs Olivia Dilanchian and Maral Boyadjian on behalf of the organizing Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee, Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) Managing Director invited Premier Berejiklian, who was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation.
Berejiklian, who has been a regular at Armenian Genocide Commemoration events in Sydney since her primary school years, appeared for the first time as the leader of Australia’s largest state of NSW. She delivered an emotional address, which recounted her story as a direct descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors, including a trip to Armenia for the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
Berejiklian stated: “This gravest and darkest crime against humanity on an entire nation by the Ottoman Turks was an attempt to silence the Armenian voice. But the extermination campaign did not prevail, and we stand here today as a product of the genocide, an example of the strength and resilience of the survivors.”
Berejiklian acknowledged the Australian relief effort during the Armenian Genocide, which assisted the survival of many Armenians, before moving on to call on the Australian Federal government to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
“I look forward to the day that Australia joins the scores of nations around the world who officially recognize the Armenian Genocide,” she said. “And we all look forward to the day that the global community accepts the undeniability of the Armenian Genocide.”
“There is no doubt that the pain of this denial is passed down from one generation to the next. This ongoing denial acts as a horrific license for other genocidal states. Atrocity demands constant acknowledgement, constant recognition.”
Berejiklian concluded her speech with the following words: “Tonight, we remember all the victims of genocide, pay homage to the survivors, and renew our promise to ensure recognition and justice.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Kate Nahapetian, who is the Executive Director of the Armenian Legal Centre for Justice & Human Rights.
Nahapetian, who was invited from Washington D.C. to address the audience, revealed how the genocide was a violation of international law of the time, which recognized the need for reparations, in addition to confronting the likely defenses Turkey would present to oppose such claims, such as the Kars Treaty.
Noting that Turkey’s blockade of Armenia violates the Kars Treaty, which mandates open borders, Nahapetian explained that Turkey may have a stronger interest in ending the blockade, since it undermines the very treaty Turkey relies on to delineate its eastern border.
“The repeated failed attempts to ‘reconcile’ Armenia and Turkey without confronting the genocide prove over and over again that there are no short cuts…. It is time for the international community to honor its commitment to ‘prevent and punish genocide’ and support Armenians in their quest for justice,” explained Nahapetian.
Among the full house were many guests, including Mr. Vaianos Oraipoulos-Kelenis – representing the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic of Greece in Australia, Mr. Trent Zimmerman MP – Federal Member for North Sydney, Chair of the Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group in Federal Parliament, Mr. Craig Kelly MP – Federal Member for Hughes, Senator Deb O’Neill – Federal Senator for NSW, Mr. Jonathan O’Dea MP – Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Treasurer, Chair of the Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group in the NSW Parliament, the Honorable Walt Secord MLC – Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council, Deputy Chair of the Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group in the NSW Parliament, Mr. Damien Tudehope MP – Member for Epping, Mr. John Graham – Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, Mr. Stuart McMillan – President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Councilor Stuart Coppock – Deputy Mayor, Willoughby City Council, Mr. Angelo Rozos and Ms. Judith Rutherford – Councilors, Willoughby City Council, Mr. Sarkis Yedelian OAM – Councilor, Ryde City Council, Mr. Kaylar Michaelian – Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia, Mrs. Hanriet Andriasian – Advisor to the Republic of Armenia Diaspora Minister, Dr. Stepan Kerkyasharyan – Chair of Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW, Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis – Genocide Scholar.
There were also representatives from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Australian Hellenic Council, the Pontian Brotherhood of New South Wales, Greek and Armenian University Students Associations, and representatives of clergy from all Armenian churches and representatives of all Armenian community organizations.
A closing prayer and blessing was delivered by Bishop Haigazoun Nadjarian – Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Australia and New Zealand.
The National Armenian Genocide Commemoration Evening was organized by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee.
On April 23, the Melbourne Armenian Genocide Commemoration Evening took place, with Nahapetian again as the keynote.
Armenian-Australian Federal Member of Parliament, Tim Wilson was among the guests to have addressed that audience at the Mazenod College.
Videos from the commemoration events can be viewed here.
Source: Armenian Weekly
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