In an unprecedented development, seven Members of the House of Representatives of the Federal Parliament have risen in recent days to call for Australian parliamentary recognition of the Armenian, Hellenic and Assyrian Genocides.
In a bipartisan show of support, MPs Craig Kelly, Malcolm Turnbull and Michael Danby and Joel Fitzgibbon – new supporters of this fundamental issue of humanity – joined their voices to long-time friends of the Armenian, Hellenic and Assyrian communities, MPs John Alexander, Joe Hockey and Paul Fletcher in paying tribute to the victims of the first genocides of the 20th century.
Their speeches coincided with the visit of a delegation of ANC Australia, the Australian Hellenic Council (AHC) and the Assyrian Universal Alliance of Australia (AUA) to Canberra to further the cause of genocide recognition as part of ANC Australia’s Advocacy Week 2011.
In his first parliamentary speech on this issue, Craig Kelly (Member for Hughes – NSW) spoke in detail about the genocidal policies of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian, Hellenic and Assyrian populations.
‘It is now time for our parliament to join other parliaments around the world and recognise these genocides for what they were,’ Kelly stated.
Malcolm Turnbull (Member for Wentworth – NSW) welcomed the representatives of ANC Australia, AHC and AUA in the public gallery of the Chamber of the House of Representatives, adding his voice to the calls for the recognition of these crimes.
The Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Michael Danby (Member for Melbourne Ports – Victoria), affirmed the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide in the past. Danby emphasised the need to acknowledge and remember past genocides to prevent such horrible crimes from recurring.
Joel Fitzgibbon (Member for Hunter – NSW) voiced similar sentiments in his first public statement on this issue.
John Alexander (Member for Bennelong – NSW) called upon the Australian government to join the wave of international recognition of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Genocide.
Joe Hockey (Member for North Sydney – NSW) emphasised the strong connections between Australian history and the genocide that began in 1915 during an adjournment speech on November 21.
Hockey firmly called for an official Australian recognition of this crime against humanity. Wrapping up an extraordinary three days in the Chamber for our communities, Mr Paul Fletcher (Member for Bradfield – NSW) once again affirmed the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide and called for its official recognition by the Australian government during a constituency speech.
This year alone, there have been ten speeches in the Chamber on this issue. The latest seven joined Shadow Minister for Immigration Mr Scott Morrison, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon who have all called for recognition of the genocides by the Federal parliament of Australia.
The Canberra leg of Advocacy Week 2011 concluded with a first-ever presentation to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence on the historical reality of the genocides, its ongoing implications, its links to Australian history and the importance of official Australian recognition.