Armenian-Australians Call On Australia to Step Up In Light Of U.S. Senate Armenian Genocide Resolution

By ANC-AU | Monday, 16 December 2019

SYDNEY: The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) has used the United States Senate's historic passing of Senate Resolution 150 (S.Res.150) to call on Australia's Federal Parliament and Government to recognise the Armenian Genocide.

The Senate passed S.Res.150 unanimously, recognising the Armenian Genocide despite three previous blocks by three separate Senators at the order of the White House. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) maintained their faith and kept bringing it to the floor, until this passage of what is an almost identically worded resolution to the one passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in October.

These motions by both houses of the United States federal parliament, delivers a sizeable blow to Turkey's century-old denial of the Ottoman Empire's systematic attempt to eliminate its Armenian, Greek and Assyrian populations during WWI, and comes hot on the heels of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan using a November visit to Washington DC to call on the Senate to not "repeat that mistake" (of the House of Representatives).

Erdogan said in November: "The documents adopted at the House of Representatives have served this very purpose and have deeply offended the Turkish people. It is not politicians but historians who are to decide what happened a hundred years ago… I hope the Senate will get America off this wrong path."

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), whose colleagues at the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) led the United States recognition effort, said discussions were being accelerated about Armenian Genocide recognition by Canberra, in light of this U.S. legislative success.

"This resolution is a major step towards justice for the Armenian nation globally, and we are calling on our own legislators to continue the thrust towards the Federal Parliament, joining the great States of New South Wales and South Australia, in its inevitable recognition of the Armenian Genocide," said ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian.

"The speeches, the debates and the commentary have all proven that it is time that the Federal Government cease either directly or indirectly appeasing Turkey’s immoral genocide denial, and sides with truth and justice, by once and for all recognising the Armenian Genocide for what it was."

Kayserian added: "The good news is we have our own Bob Menendezes, Ted Cruzes, Adam Schiffs and Gus Bilirakises in the likes of Tim Wilson, Kristina Keneally, Trent Zimmerman, Joel Fitzgibbon, Eric Abetz, John Alexander, Julian Leeser, Michael Sukkar, Josh Burns, Richard Di Natale, Jason Falinski, Rex Patrick and others. We have the supporters who want to chaperone Australia to the side of truth and justice on this issue."

In 2018, two House of Representatives debates saw Members of Parliament from both major parties calling on the Australian government to recognise the Armenian Genocide, including recognising eyewitness testimonies of ANZAC POWs and Australia's first major international humanitarian relief effort - which was to aid survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

The state parliaments of New South Wales and South Australia have also recognised the Armenian Genocide, as have a number of local councils, political parties including the Australian Greens and Centre Alliance, several senior and youth state branches of the major political parties, as well as influential advocacy groups including the Australian Christian Lobby and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Kayserian added that the Armenian-Australian community expects the Australia government to reject the Armenian Genocide gag-order imposed on it by Erdogan's Turkey - a regime is under increased scrutiny following their military insurgency into northeastern Syria and on-going human rights violations at home.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison linked his decision to avoid using the term "genocide" when referring the Armenian Genocide to Australia's Anzac Day commemoration service in Gallipoli, confirming long-held views that Australia was under influence by the Turkish dictatorship on this issue.

"We’ve been working closely with the Turkish government to ensure that we continue to have a very strong relationship that enables Australians, and New Zealanders for that matter, to make that pilgrimage," Morrison said, which attracted the criticism of public figures including politicians, columnists and broadcasters including Alan Jones.

The U.S. Senate's Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.150) establishes, as a matter of policy, 1) the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial, 2) ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and 3) support for education about the Armenian Genocide in order to help prevent modern-day atrocities.

This resolution, like the one in the House of Representatives in October, does not require ratification by the U.S. President or his administration. It can also not be vetoed by the President or his administration. And while it doesn't force the U.S. government into a foreign policy shift towards proper characterisation of the Armenian Genocide, any denial of the facts henceforth would expose a gulf between the representative houses of the U.S. parliament and a U.S. government who would be overtly pandering to a foreign dictatorship's gag order.

"The Senate today joined the House in rejecting Ankara’s gag-rule against honest American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide – overriding the largest, longest foreign veto over the U.S. Congress in American history," said ANC America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

"Today’s unanimous Senate action shines a spotlight on the President, who continues – against all reason – to enforce Erdogan’s veto against honest American remembrance of Turkey’s extermination and exile of millions of Christians.

"It’s time for the Executive Branch to join Congress in ending any and all American complicity in Ankara’s lies. Together, the President and Congress should put in place a sustained and pro-active policy that rejects Turkey’s lies, challenges Ankara’s obstruction of justice, and works with Armenian and Turkish stakeholders toward the international reparations and other remedies required of this crime."