New South Wales Parliamentarian Walt Secord declares continued solidarity with Armenian-Australians

By ANC-AU | Friday, 16 November 2018



SYDNEY: The Vice-Chair of the New South Wales Parliamentary Friends of Armenia, the Hon. Walt Secord MLC rose in the Legislative Council of Australia's largest state and declared his continuing solidarity with the Armenian-Australian community, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

Secord, who is the son of a Mohawk-Ojibway First Nation man from Canada, has taken a keen interest in Armenian issues since the very beginning of his political career in Australia. His pioneering visits to Armenia, Western Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk solidified his support for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the rights to self-determination for the Armenians in the Republic of Artsakh.

In his speech on 13th November, 2018, Secord said: "As deputy chair of the parliamentary friends, my personal relationship with the Armenian community has also deepened. I have also visited Armenia on two occasions, Artsakh, Javakhk, the Gulbenkian in Portugal, Western Armenia including Kars, Van, Ani, Masis and Pokr Masis."

"To my deep pleasure every time I visit a community—whether it is in Singapore, Lisbon, Gyumri, Lake Sevan, Tbilisi, Stepanakert or Sydney's north—I discover a new aspect of the Armenian story. Since getting to know the Armenian community, I find myself seeking out all things Armenian. Most recently, it was the films of Atom Egoyan, Ararat and Noy Armenian brandies, Vasily Grossman's An Armenian Sketchbook, the music and ballet of Aram Khachaturian, and Sydney soprano Natalie Aroyan, whom I have seen perform in many Opera Australia productions. I now take a deep interest in the Armenian entry in Eurovision."

ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian thanked Secord, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council and the Shadow Minister for Health, the Arts, and the North Coast.

"Our community has long recognised that Mr. Secord embodies morality in politics," Kayserian said. "Mr. Secord visited Artsakh and faced the ire of the petro-dictatorship of Azerbaijan for supporting the rights to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh. He has always argued for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and maintains his exemplary moral compass on issues that impact other survivor communities around the world."

Kayserian added: "We thank Mr. Secord for his speech and look forward to continuing our community's relationship with him."



Secord's speech included the following words, with a view to the future: "The Armenian community should ask any representative, like me, if we are further ahead in promoting recognition of the Armenian Genocide than we were in 2011 and I say, 'yes'. I hope that Australia formally recognises the Armenian Genocide and, in my lifetime, that Turkey recognises the Armenian Genocide."

"I believe that more people today in Australia know of the Armenian Genocide than they did 10 years ago. That is the starting point to formal recognition, which I hope will occur both in Canberra and Ankara."

Secord concluded his speech with the following pitch: "Finally, after the March (NSW State) election, whatever the result, I pledge to continue to work with the Armenian community and I hope to visit Armenia again, perhaps, on the other side of March 2019 election. I thank the House for its consideration."

In 2012, Secord was awarded the Armenian Community's Friend of the Year by ANC-AU. During that same year, the government of Azerbaijan black-listed him as a personae non gratae for his visit to Artsakh.


Read Walt Secord's complete remarks below or by clicking here.

The Hon. WALT SECORD (21:12): As we approach the end of this Parliament, I reflect on the last seven years as the deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Armenia. I do so as a genuine friend of the Armenian community and as a person committed to commemorating, remembering, and thus hopefully preventing, genocide. As the son of a late-Mohawk-Ojibway First Nation man from Canada, I believe that all genocides require constant remembrance. Oppression and genocide have deep meaning to the Armenian community and to me personally. In a personal capacity, I have visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the national genocide museum in Yerevan, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Halabja's museum and monument in Iraqi Kurdistan where Saddam Hussein tried to exterminate the Kurds in 1988, former Jewish and Islamic sites of the Spanish Inquisition including Cordoba, and Aboriginal massacre sites, including Appin and Myall Creek.


I believe it is only by acknowledging what has happened that we can help prevent acts of genocide from happening again. As we approach the March State election I know the Armenian community will be cheering on their daughter, Gladys Berejiklian. I understand that and I do not take that personally. While I differ with her on public policy, the Australian Armenian community has every right to be proud. But I implore the community, in that pride to please know that they have strong supporters in the Labor Party too. I am one of these supporters.

Over the last seven years we have seen many changes, including the Armenian Film Festival, the premiere ofThe Promise, many officials visits, including the Armenian foreign minister, Hrant Dink's wife, numerous genocide academics and internationalist jurist Geoffrey Robertson, QC, important commemorations, including the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide, the twentieth anniversary of NSW Parliament Recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the Sumgait massacre, formation of the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the first Federal parliamentary motion recognising the Armenian Genocide through the prism of Australia's first major international humanitarian relief effort.

As deputy chair of the parliamentary friends, my personal relationship with the Armenian community has also deepened. I have also visited Armenia on two occasions, Artsakh, Javakhk, the Gulbenkian in Portugal, Western Armenia including Kars, Van, Ani, Masis and Pokr Masis. To my deep pleasure every time I visit a community—whether it is in Singapore, Lisbon, Gyumri, Lake Sevan, Tbilisi, Stepanakert or Sydney's north—I discover a new aspect of the Armenian story. Since getting to know the Armenian community, I find myself seeking out all things Armenian. Most recently, it was the films of Atom Egoyan, Ararat and Noy Armenian brandies, Vasily Grossman's An Armenian Sketchbook, the music and ballet of Aram Khachaturian, and Sydney soprano Natalie Aroyan, whom I have seen perform in many Opera Australia productions. I now take a deep interest in the Armenian entry in Eurovision.

I recognise Armenian surnames often in obscure places such as the creator ofAlvin and the Chipmunks, to the co-founder of Animal Logic here in Sydney. I joined the community in mourning the great late Charles Aznavour. Furthermore, I now follow Armenian domestic politics, joining the New South Wales community in welcoming the December elections, after its Velvet revolution in April, which we hope will herald greater democracy there.

In conclusion, on a more serious note, the Armenian community should ask any representative, like me, if we are further ahead in promoting recognition of the Armenian genocide than we were in 2011 and I say, "yes". This is due to the hard work of the Armenian National Committee of Australia and its dedicated staff. It is also due to the personal relationships we have formed with the likes of Khajaque Kortian, Haig Kayserian, Olivia Dilanchian, Michael Kolokossian, Vache Kahramania, Stepan and Hilda Kerkyasharian, Greg and Ani Soghomonian, Garbis and Dr Sharon Simonian, Carla and Zorro Keverian, Hovig Melkonian, my good friend and former colleague Sassoon and his wife, Nora Grigorian, and their three sons, and Varant Meguerditchian, his wife, Houry, and their son, who now reside in Yerevan where he works at the American University of Armenia. I thank them for their constant reminders to every parliamentarian of the Armenian genocide.

I hope that Australia formally recognises the Armenian genocide and, in my lifetime, that Turkey recognises the Armenian genocide. There are promising precedents. In June 2016 Germany recognised the Armenian genocide and this year Holland did the same. As recently as last month Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a State visit as part of the 17th Francophonie Summit held in Yerevan and laid a wreath at the national genocide memorial. I believe that more people today in Australia know of the Armenian genocide than they did 10 years ago. That is the starting point to formal recognition, which I hope will occur both in Canberra and Ankara. Finally, after the March election, whatever the result, I pledge to continue to work with the Armenian community and I hope to visit Armenia again, perhaps, on the other side of March 2019 election. I thank the House for its consideration.

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