Australian Government Urged to Step Up for Armenians by New South Wales Ecumenical Council of 16 Churches

By ANC-AU | Saturday, 03 October 2020

SYDNEY: The New South Wales Ecumenical Council, which comprises of 16 churches in the state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, has released a statement calling out Azerbaijan's Turkey-backed attacks on Armenia and Artsakh while calling for diplomatic intervention by the Australian Government, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The statement expressed the concern and offered the prayers of their member churches, which include the Anglican Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, The Bruderhof, Congregational Federation of NSW, Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Indian Orthodox Church, Lutheran Church of NSW, Mar Thoma Church, Religious Society of Friends, Syrian Orthodox Church, The Salvation Army and Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT.

"The Council expresses its deep concern about this conflict and tragic loss of life and offers prayerful greetings to His Eminence Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian and all members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, one of the Council’s member churches," their statement read.

"The NSW Ecumenical Council is extremely saddened by the news that the longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been subjected to a violent attack by Turkey-backed Azerbaijani forces."

"The Council is particularly concerned about the potential destruction within the ancient Christian enclave of Artsakh with its over 5000 monasteries, churches, chapels, and Christian monuments, some of which date back to the 1st Century CE."

The statement called on the Australian Government to do its part in helping stop the evolving humanitarian crisis.

"The Council is aware of the call by the United Nations and several national leaders around the world for a ceasefire in these current hostilities and adds its voice to that call, especially urging the Australian Government to use its diplomatic influence for that purpose," the New South Wales Ecumenical Council stated.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) thanked the New South Wales Ecumenical Council for their prayers and advocacy.

"We feel energised by the support of these very influential churches and the congregations they represent," said ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian.

"We share their prayers with our brothers and sisters in Armenia and Artsakh who are facing a brutal attempt by Azerbaijan and Turkey to invade the indigenous Armenian homeland, and we join their urging of the Australian Government to step up."

Public support for Armenia and Artsakh has been offered by Australian politicians at all levels of government and public figures, including the co-convenors of the Federal Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union, Federal parliamentarians Senator Kristina KeneallyTim Wilson MPJosh Burns MPJason Falinski MP and John Alexander MP, as well as New South Wales Member for Prospect Hugh McDermott MP, who wrote a scathing letter to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Australia. NSW Legislative Assembly Speaker Jonathan O'Dea MP expressed his solidarity with the Republic of Artsakh and Northern Beaches Councillor Vincent De Luca and media broadcaster Jon Dee did the same.

The Australian Greens political party released a statement calling out Azerbaijan and Turkey for their aggression. Ryde City Council also released a message declaring solidarity with the Armenian people under attack, while the Greek-AustralianAssyrian-AustralianPontian-Australian and Kurdish-Australian communities were strong in their public support for Armenia and Artsakh.

This support is in spite of disappointing statements from the Foreign Minister of Australia, Marise Payne and the Shadow Foreign Minister, Penny Wong.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia have petitioned SBS and lobbied the ABC on their unbalanced coverage of the attacks, as well as advocated for support from Government Ministers, including for an investigation into Australian flights made by a cargo airline owned by the family of Azerbaijan's dictatorship, which has past links to transporting arms and support to terrorist mercenaries in the Middle East.