“Let justice be done, souls consoled, broken hearts mended, nations reconciled and honour given to all those who perished.”
Following the NSW Parliament’s adoption of a motion recognising genocide by Turkey of its Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic communities in the early 20th century, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s condemnations of the motion have been rebuffed by NSW parliamentarians.
Both houses of the state parliament passed the motion earlier this month, affirming the reality of genocides committed by Turkey in the 1910s and 1920s, which Turkey continues to deny.
In a provocative reaction, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the motion, calling it a “hate speech”, and adding that those responsible for it would in future “doubtlessly be deprived of the hospitality and friendship” normally extended to Australians.
More specifically, the official statement said: “These persons who try to damage the spirit of Çanakkale/Gallipoli will also not have their place in the Çanakkale ceremonies where we commemorate together our sons lying side by side in our soil.”
Member of the NSW Legislative Council Marie Ficarra has condemned the Turkish reaction, which implies the country would block NSW politicians from visiting Gallipoli for the centenary of Anzac in 2015.
Ficarra has written to the Turkish Consul General saying that to politicise Gallipoli was “an unacceptable and irrational act” and that the ministry’s comments “diminishes Turkey’s credibility and reputation”.
In his speech to the NSW Parliament on Tuesday, Reverend Fred Nile MP – who moved the motion – referred to a letter written by the Turkish Consul General to the NSW Parliament criticising its adoption.
Mr Nile said that his intention was not to attack or denigrate the modern state of Turkey, but an action that drew on irrefutable conclusions reached by national and international scholarly groups.
“The unanimous opinion is that the Assyrian, Armenian and Hellenic peoples were victims of genocide in the 1910s and 1920s,” said Mr Nile.
“These genocides were carried out by the leaders of the Ottoman Empire, not the modern state of Turkey which has wonderful relations with Australia.”
Mr Nile refuted suggestions made by the Turkish Consul General that the NSW Legislative Council resolution constituted “sowing the seeds of hatred” in Australia.
Mr Nile said that as a representative of the Christian Democratic Party and the Parliament of New South Wales, “recognition of the genocides of the indigenous Assyrian, Armenian and Hellenic peoples of the Ottoman Empire is not simply a matter of history… the effects of the genocides continue to this day – it is an issue of international law and human rights.”
Mr Nile vowed “to continue to advocate such issues at every opportunity.
“Let justice be done, souls consoled, broken hearts mended, nations reconciled and honour given to all those who perished so needlessly during a dark hour in mankind’s recent history.”
Mr Nile said in his response to the Turkish Consul General that the Genocide Recognition motion had a strong focus on the genocides “as part of the Australian national story”.
“As documented in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Anzacs were captured and imprisoned as far south as the Sinai Peninsula, as far east as Mesopotamia – modern Iraq – as well as across Anatolia.”
Mr Nile pointed out that the archives of the Australian War Memorial contained written and photographic evidence that the Anzacs rescued Armenians and Assyrians in Persia (Iran) and Mesopotamia (Iraq) – as well as during the Palestine Campaign.
“Many of these Anzacs later became involved in an international humanitarian relief effort on behalf of the survivors for over a decade,” said the MP, who added that the events of the Assyrian, Armenian and Hellenic Genocides were documented by the Australian media before WWI and into the 1920s.