First Federal-Led Australian Delegation to Armenia Pay Historic Visit to Armenian Genocide Memorial [VIDEOS]

By ANC-AU | Wednesday, 02 October 2019

YEREVAN: On Sunday the 22nd of September, a delegation of Federal Australian parliamentarians visited the “Tsitsernakaberd” Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum in Yerevan and honoured the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The first Australian Federal Parliamentary Delegation to Armenia – organised by ANC-AU and the Australia-Armenia Interparliamentary Union (Friendship Group) – include three Federal parliamentarians, one State parliamentarian and five Armenian-Australian business leaders as part of a 20-person team.

Members of Australia’s Parliament Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and John Alexander, as well as Member of Parliament of the country’s largest state of New South Wales Hugh McDermott were amongst the 20-person team who laid flowers at the eternal flame, toured the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute and signed the guest book for dignitaries.

They planted a tree on behalf of the delegation remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide, and the Australians who helped the survivors.

ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian said that all four parliamentarians are strong supporters of both the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the self-determination for the Armenians of Artsakh.

“This was an emotional experience for Messrs Zimmerman, Wilson, Alexander and McDermott, who have been among the pioneers of advancing this issue at different levels of Australian politics over many years,” Kayserian said.

“The Armenian-Australian community is very fortunate to count these distinguished Members among our friends, and upholders of human rights causes needing international attention.”

In June 2018, Trent Zimmerman – Chair of the Australia-Armenia Interparliamentary Union (Friendship Group) – moved a parliamentary motion acknowledging Australia’s first international humanitarian mission to aid the survivors of the Armenian Genocide.The motion, which was the first time a federal parliamentary motion used the term ‘genocide’, was seconded by John Alexander and debated without dissent.

Alexander, who is a former tennis champion once ranked No.8 in the world, is the Member for Bennelong, which is the most Armenian-populated federal electorate in Australia.

In December 2018, Tim Wilson – who is the only Australian federal parliamentarian of Armenian descent – moved a motion acknowledging the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The motion acknowledged how Raphael Lemkin, who drafted the convention and coined the term ‘genocide’, was inspired to define the crime of genocide after learning of the Ottoman-era massacres and death marches inflicted on the Armenian people.

In both motions, Zimmerman, Alexander and Wilson took the opportunity to call on the Australian government to recognise the Armenian Genocide.

The four parliamentarians leading the Australian Delegation to Armenia have also demonstrated their commitment to representing the right to self-determination of the Armenians of Artsakh.

In July 2019, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Artsakh Mr. Masis Mayilyan led a delegation to Australia during which the Australian Friends of Artsakh initiative was launched. The Australian Friends of Artsakh is a network of prominent Australians who have committed to ensuring the right to self-determination of all people is upheld and call on the Australian government to recognise the independence of the Armenians of Artsakh. All four delegation are among the inaugural signatories of the 47-strong Australian Friends of Artsakh.