Bohjalian and Armoudian join Premier Berejiklian and political leaders at capacity National Armenian Genocide Commemoration [VIDEOS]

By | Sunday, 29 April 2018

SYDNEY: International keynote Chris Bohjalian and Guest Speaker Maria Armoudian led an exemplary programme at the National Armenian Genocide Commemoration Evening at The Concourse in Sydney, where around 1,000 guests filled the concert hall to capacity.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian led an illustrious group of political leaders in attendance, which included Federal parliamentarians Trent Zimmerman MP, Senator Kristina Keneally and Jason Falinski MP, as well as NSW State parliamentarians including Walt Secord MLC (representing the Leader of the NSW Opposition, Luke Foley), Jonathan O'Dea MP, Rev. Fred Nile MLC, David Clarke MLC and Felicity Wilson MP.

Mr. Christos Karras, Consul General of Greece in Sydney, was in attendance representing Her Excellency the Ambassador of Greece to Australia Ekaterini Xagorari. Deputy Consul General of Germany in Sydney Mr. Klaus Steitz, and Deputy Consul General of the Russian Federation in Sydney Mr. Nikolay Vinogradov were also in attendance. Greece, the Russian Federation and Germany have all recognised the Armenian Genocide, with Germany acknowledging its own complicity in the genocide as an ally of Turkey during the First World War. Mr. Kaylar Michaelian - Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia, Mrs. Hanriet Andriasian - Adviser to the Republic of Armenia Diaspora Minister and Dr. Stepan Kerkyasharian - Chair of Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW were also present.

Local government representatives from the City of Willoughby and the City of Ryde, as well as over 100 leaders of the Armenian-Australian, Greek-Australian, Assyrian-Australian, Jewish-Australian, Arab-Australian, Indian-Australian, Chinese-Australian and Indigenous-Australian communities were also among the attending guests at this event, organised by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee.

Proceedings began with a traditional Welcome to Country by Uncle Allen Madden, which followed the introduction of the Armenian, Artsakh, Australian and Aboriginal flags by Homenetmen Australia Scouts. The anthems were performed by students from Hamazkaine Arshak & Sophie Galstaun College, AGBU Alexander Primary School, Hamazkaine Tarkmanchatz Saturday School, AGBU Alex Manougian Saturday School and Looyce Armenian School.

Following opening remarks by MCs Kevork Dertadian and Sarin Zaitounian (click here to watch) on behalf of the organising Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee, a background slide presentation, prepared by Tamara Kotoyan of the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia, ran throughout the evening, depicting historical information, quotes, faces and more referring to the Armenian Genocide.

Bohjalian, who is a bestelling author from the United States of America, took the audience on a journey through his research which helped write his New York Times Bestselling novel, The Sandcastle Girls, which is set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide.

His storytelling abilities were on display, as the audience were enchanted by his personal connections to the Armenian Genocide. Bohjalian's address primarily unveiled the frightening and close links between the Young Nazis and the Young Turks – those who would commit the Holocaust were inspired and "learned to kill" from those who committed the Armenian Genocide. 

Armoudian, a media and politics lecturer from the University of Auckland, highlighted the link between New Zealand and the Armenian Genocide. She was able to show how her research on this topic unveiled over 45,000 articles published by the New Zealand press covering the plight of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the years of the Armenian Genocide. Armoudian also revealed New Zealand's humanitarian efforts and the Armenian links of ANZAC soldiers.

Premier Berejiklian continued the theme of high-profile speakers with Armenian Genocide survivors for grandparents. On what was the eve of ANZAC Day, Berejiklian recalled testimonies of ANZAC soldiers who witnessed the Armenian Genocide, including one who rescued a young Armenian girl.

The NSW Premier was followed onto the stage her NSW Parliamentary colleague Secord, as well as Federal MPs Zimmerman and Keneally. Zimmerman and Keneally both pledged they would do their part to ensure Federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is realised, which would become a common theme during the evening.

Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), Haig Kayserian delivered the Advocacy Address, which began with two important announcements - that the City of Ryde Council had once again recognised the Armenian Genocide, while the TV version of Children of a Genocide (Echoes of my Ancestors) had attracted 142,000 viewers on its ABC premiere.

Addressing advocacy, Kayserian said: "It is time. It is time to make a stand. It is time for political backbone as remembered during our travel through time. It is time to recognise what our ANZACs witnessed and what those who came before us provided relief for and reported. It is time... for Australia to recognise the Armenian Genocide."

This message was illuminated further with an Audio-Visual presentation titled "It's Time Australia" displayed on the night (click here to watch).

The National Armenian Genocide Commemoration Evening's stage was graced by impressive cultural performances on the night. These included a surprise performance from visiting Armenian Qanon prodigy, 9-year-old Kristine Yengoyan (click here to watch). Zani Okgian beautifully recited Haghterkoutioun (click here), the AGBU Tamzara Dance Group elegantly performed Krounkner (click here to watch) and members of the Armenian Youth Federation of Australian sang Bid Bashdbanem (click here to watch).

His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian of the Armenian Apostolic Church delivered the Closing Prayer (click here to watch).

On April 23rd, the Melbourne Armenian Genocide Commemoration Evening took place, with Bohjalian again the keynote.

Armenian-Australian Federal Member of Parliament, Tim Wilson MP and fellow Federal Parliamentarian Julian Hill MP were among the guests to have addressed that audience.