ADELAIDE: An Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) delegation was present as South Australian Parliament's Legislative Council passed a motion recognising the Armenian Genocide as “one of the greatest crimes against humanity”.
However this motion is unique, as it is the first to include recognition of recently-uncovered material detailing the significant humanitarian effort by the people of South Australia who aided the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide almost a century ago.
South Australians, as part of the global Near East Relief effort, answered to calls for aid by donating clothing, money and infrastructure – an orphenage in Lebanon which housed the child survivors of the attempt by Ottoman Turkey to exterminate its Christian-Armenian minority.
When introducing the motion a fortnight ago, a proud Mr. Ridgway said: “I would like to recognise South Australia's role in the first major international humanitarian relief effort. As was the case for the genocide itself, that effort was not broadly publicised.”
Mr. Ridgway added: “It goes without saying that such acts as the Armenian genocide epitomise prejudices against race, religion and culture. For most Australians those attitudes are difficult to comprehend but, unfortunately, they remain commonplace in many societies today.”
Mr. Finnigan also addressed the house in seconding the motion: “In light of growing international awareness of the Armenian genocide – and given the horrific nature of the genocide itself – it is time for we South Australians to do our part.”
ANC Australia Political Relations Officer, Mr. Vache Kahramanian commended Mr. Ridgway, Mr. Finnigan and their Legislative Council colleagues for recognising what he described a “proud intertwining of histories for Armenian-Australians”.
He said: “It is fitting that South Australia is the first to honour this significant moment in Australian history – the first time this great nation came to the aid of a needy people a whole world away.”
Mr. Kahramanian added: “It is important for nations like Australia to recognise and condemn all acts of genocide, as some – like the Armenian Genocide – remain unpunished.”
Mr. Ridgway commended the Armenian-Australian community and ANC Australia for their excellent leadership.
“I am grateful to be in an ongoing working relationship with the Armenian community,” he said. “The Armenian National Committee is dedicated to a campaign which advocates recognition of the genocide, and today's motion is also a tribute to its tireless efforts on behalf of the Armenian community.”
THE MOTION IN FULL
That this Council recognises that the Armenian Genocide is one of the greatest crimes against humanity and –
I. joins the members of the Armenian-Australian community in honouring the memory of the innocent men, women and children who fell victim to this genocide;
II. condemns the genocide of the Armenians and all other acts of genocide as the ultimate act of racial, religious and cultural intolerance;
III. recognises the importance of remembering and learning from such dark chapters in human history to ensure that such crimes against humanity are not allowed to be repeated;
IV. acknowledges the significant humanitarian contribution made by the people of South Australia to the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide; and
V. calls on the Commonwealth Government to officially condemn the genocide of the Armenians.
Source: Website of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia)
March 25, 2009